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1&1 and Rakuten team up to build Europe’s first fully virtualized nationwide mobile network based on Open RAN technology

By
February 20, 2022
5
minute read

Open RAN is transforming the telecom industry. With its remarkable performance, all-around security and flexible, multi-vendor network architecture, this new approach to mobile infrastructure is defying industry myths and taking home global awards. And now, it’s set to power Germany’s fourth major mobile network.

“With Rakuten, we have the world’s only open ran expert on our side who really has extensive practical experiencewith this new technology.”
- Ralph Dommermuth, CEO, 1&1 AG

Having launched full-scale commercial service with the world’s first virtualized cloud-native Open RAN mobile network as a new entrant in Japan in April 2020, Rakuten has now been selected by German telecommunications provider 1&1 as their partner to build a new 4G and 5G mobile network in Germany.

"We are honored to have been selected by 1&1 astheir partner to build the first fully virtualized mobile network in Europe."
- Mickey Mikitani, Chairman & CEO, Rakuten

Setting new standards for the future of mobile telephony in Europe

Following its successful participation in the government’s 5G frequency auction, 1&1 is ready to break ground on construction of its own mobile network. Together with Rakuten, 1&1 has decided to build Europe’s first fully virtualized mobile network based on innovative Open RAN technology, with Rakuten taking over the building and operations of active network equipment as well as responsibility for the overall performance of the network.

Through this partnership, 1&1 will get access to the full Rakuten Communications Platform (RCP) stack of access, core, cloud and operations solutions, as well as its partner ecosystem. Rakuten will also provide its specially developed orchestration software to automate operations on the 1&1 network.

Listed telecommunications provider 1&1 is set to build a high-performance mobile network to fully exploit the potential of 5G.

“With Rakuten, we have the world’s only Open RAN expert on our side who really has extensive practical experience with this new technology. Rakuten ideally complements our know-how in telecommunications networks, data centers and cloud applications. Together we are building a high-performance mobile network that has extensive automation and agility to fully exploit the potential of 5G,” says Ralph Dommermuth, CEO of 1&1 AG. “Through complete virtualization and the use of standard hardware, we can flexibly combine the best products. This will make us a manufacturer-independent innovation driver in the German and European mobile market.”

For Rakuten, this partnership is the ultimate recognition of its award-winning, high-performing autonomous network solution that will set new standards for the future of mobile telephony in Germany and Europe.

“We are honored to have been selected by 1&1 as their partner to build the first fully virtualized mobile network in Europe,” commented Mickey Mikitani, Chairman and CEO of Rakuten Group, Inc. “Like 1&1, we launched our mobile network in Japan with a vision to transform the industry. Through technological innovation, we have been able to offer high quality services at an affordable price that challenge the market. We are very excited to now have the opportunity to share this experience and know-how with 1&1 through the Rakuten Communications Platform and jointly create a next generation network that will set a new standard for future mobile communications in Germany and across Europe.”

Flexibility and Independence – Disaggregating software and hardware

Similar to Rakuten Mobile’s approach in Japan, all network functions for 1&1 will take place in the cloud and run as software. Complex retrofitting or maintenance at the base stations of the antennas will be unnecessary, instead taking place efficiently and cost-effectively through software updates.

Four central data centers are planned for the core network, connected to a network of hundreds of decentralized data centers throughout Germany, which in turn will be connected to thousands of antenna locations via fiber optics. Construction of the 1&1 mobile network is set to start in Q3 of 2021.

5G
Europe
Mobile
Networks

Article originally published on Rakuten Today on Aug 5, 2021.