Leading the Way

In telecom, leadership should mean more than a race to create the boxes for the next G.

Leadership is being brave enough to take disruptive technologies from the lab and prove them in large scale deployments.

Rakuten is leading the way in challenging outdated conventions, learning from other industries, and creating the innovations required to take telecom into a new era.

Our solutions take inspiration from the hyperscale giants as opposed to other telecom players. Hyperscale giants have already solved the kinds of problems that operators increasingly need to solve: how to manage large fleets of infrastructure as one autonomous, distributed, self-healing system, and how to create platforms of operation rather than islands of specialty.

Leading the team

Tareq Amin
Group Executive Vice President, Rakuten Group Chief Executive Officer, Rakuten Mobile Chief Executive Officer, Rakuten Symphony

Amin joined Rakuten Group in 2018 as the first chief technology officer of Rakuten Mobile and led the design and roll-out in Japan of the world’s first fully virtualized cloud-native mobile network.

In 2021, Amin was appointed as chief executive officer of Rakuten Symphony, a Rakuten Group company launched in August 2021 with a vision to reimagine telecom for a hyperscale era, delivering the convergence of IT and telecom networks. Under Amin’s leadership, Rakuten Symphony draws on the proven technologies and operating principles of hyperscale leaders, to create a unique offering: a modern, industrial-scale automation platform built specifically for telecom.

In 2022, Amin was appointed as chief executive officer of Rakuten Mobile to ignite the next stage of growth in Japan and drive synergies between the global business and Rakuten Mobile.

With a career in the mobile network industry spanning almost two decades, prior to joining Rakuten in 2018, Amin was a key contributor to the transformation of the mobile industry in India as Senior Vice President of Technology Development and Automation for Reliance Jio. Prior to that, he served as Vice President of Carrier Solutions for Huawei and as Senior Director of National Planning & Performance at T-Mobile.

Amin holds a bachelor’s degree in Electrical Engineering and Physics from Portland State University in Oregon.

One example of Rakuten Symphony industry leadership is our Radio-as-a-Service offering, Symware, a new generation of Distributed Unit that is cheaper, faster and easier to deploy and manage.

Symware is designed with an outdoor form factor for single person carry, zero touch provisioning, and ‘plug & play’ cabinet-free installation. It is weather hardened; bookshelf modelled and has a fan-less design to lessen the chance of failure.

Commercially, it is available on an as-a-Service basis, with hardware upgrade included, or bundled with the Rakuten Symphony software solution for the radio stack and fully automated operations out of the box. Technology advances, operating models and commercials all combine to enable Symware to disrupt the radio status quo, something that would not have been possible previously.

Leadership for Rakuten Symphony is not about the race for the next G. It is about knowing how to successfully run a network business as a modern digital-first business, focusing on total system performance rather than individual pieces of equipment or technology domains. Doing networks right in this context means enabling dramatically different cost performance, operational performance and technology performance. 5G (or even 6G) becomes just one item in a roadmap alongside other technology innovations from within and outside the telecom industry.

Intelligent Operations

The Intelligent Operations delivered by Rakuten Symphony represent a true breakthrough in how cloud-native networks are planned, built and operated.

From a single, intelligent, cloud-native platform, Rakuten Symphony customers can analyse and manage every aspect of their network’s lifecycle.

By disaggregating and virtualizing network functions, we have eliminated layers of proprietary management systems that add complexity and cost for operators.

By creating a single, unified cloud infrastructure using COTS components, we have eliminated proprietary hardware, reducing network TCO still further.

By containerizing network software, we have created a scalable, elastic network that offers automated, telco-grade resilience.

AI and machine learning are applied to network-wide data, predicting and detecting anomalies more reliably, and resolving faults 70% faster than conventional methods.

Our unique observability framework provides operators with a clear, consistent view of the status of services and underlying cloud infrastructure.

Our zero-trust security model, combined with extensive automation, ensures the most up-to-date protection against cyber threats and human error.

Using industry-standard open interfaces from 3GPP, TMForum, Open RAN Alliance, ETSI and others, we have created a flexible, future-proof foundation that gives operators more, not less, choice.

With Symworld, we provide all of the applications needed to plan, build, deploy, operate, monitor, manage and secure a complex, multi-vendor network. A data driven platform with 50+ integrated applications that provide data into a common data lake and receive AI driven insight. Those applications sharing a common data platform, eliminates integration tax, manual processes, data duplication and fragmented software license management.

Subsets of applications can be chosen to solve specific tasks, an example being a major network operator selecting the Rakuten Symphony Observability Framework applications as their starting point.

When this platform is adopted, data driven automation is enabled for the end to end life cycle of planning, deploying, securing, monitoring and operation edge data centers, of which Rakuten can access 1,000+ today.

Data-driven, AI-enabled, Intelligent Operations is at the heart of the new generation of a low-cost, high quality telecom operator that Rakuten Symphony makes possible.

Commercial Innovation

Rakuten Symphony addresses the outdated commercial structures and processes that prevent the transition to a truly modern telco.

Progress requires change to commercial relationships as well, from procurement practice to transparency expectations to new business models and relationships.

The RFP model of procurement has for a long time not been fit for purpose. To reference 2019 industry research by TM Forum:

New industry research by TM Forum shows 30-year-old procurement practices increase costs, decrease innovation and slow down business agility.

Most of the 300 CSPs and vendor participants agree that current RFP processes are not fit for the coming decade of digital transformation.

Recommendations include leveraging proof-of-concepts, embracing agile methodology, and decentralization and digitization of the procurement process.

Starting in 2018, Rakuten Mobile realized the traditional RFP procurement practice was not fit for purpose and replaced it with a partnership, rapid trial to scale model. Using this model, Rakuten Mobile now works with over 50 different suppliers, which does not create an obstacle to scaling, since all are managed through software interfaces and platform management.

In a conventional telco RFP process, the issuer over-lists all possible wanted features in case they might be useful and the suppliers reply with over compliance to maximize the chance of winning. The process takes months to years and the end result is no clearer understanding of ability to meet real needed outcomes and goals. It is a false horizon of progress. It also forces component level comparisons rather than system level possibilities. Incumbent suppliers use the RFP process as weapon to discourage change and innovation. Technical architectures have led to organizational architectures that have led to similar siloed procurement practices.

Rather than engaging at the RFP level, Rakuten Symphony focuses on the business outcomes an operator needs. This fosters a much more productive, collaborative and faster process than with the conventional approach.