Spotlight on Tech

Telecom’s tough questions: Is a cloud native mobile architecture resilient enough?

January 10, 2023
minute read

Transforming a global industry requires more than just game-changing technology, innovative business models or visionary leadership. It requires communication.

To successfully break through the status quo, a disruptor must be able to communicate the benefits of its radical approach – and take on the tough questions that come from doing things differently.

At Rakuten Symphony, we believe in our transformative vision, and we’re confident that through open communication and our “no more secrets” approach, the industry will become believers as well. Read on for telecom’s toughest questions.

Rakuten Symphony: Engineering networks for resiliency

The impact of a mobile network outage – no voice calls, no texts, no data, no email, no streaming – is significant because of society’s growing dependence on mobile devices and the cloud. And it only gets more critical: These negative impacts will magnify as life-sustaining health services, autonomous vehicles and other “mission critical” applications dependent on mobile networks grow in popularity.

Rakuten Symphony’s products are designed and built based on the experience of engineering the Rakuten Mobile network for resiliency and fast restoration. With a nationwide footprint of more than 50,000 4G base stations and over 5 million subscribers, including MVNO customers, Rakuten Mobile is considered a public utility in Japan. It was recognized as a designated public corporation in 2022, giving it access to sites affected by emergency situations to restore its network equipment.

While this access is very important, Rakuten Symphony solutions developed for the Rakuten Mobile network also help it to be engineered to restore functionality quickly. The Symworld-based network utilizes a state-of-the-art cloud-native and programmable architecture to minimize disruption to services, and to facilitate rapid replacement of network infrastructure.

Four elements that build reliability into Rakuten Mobile networks

The foundation of Rakuten Symphony’s Symworld platform is a disaggregated architecture based on Open RAN principles. This architecture leads to four key elements to create a modular and virtualized approach that increases reliability. These include:

  • Redundancy: The network is built with backup base stations that operate in standby mode and can be rapidly engaged by software if there is a failure of the main base station, maintaining service continuity in the event of a disruption.
  • Observability: There are hundreds of thousands of physical and virtual network elements that need to be monitored in order to understand the health of the network. This monitoring task is difficult for legacy element management systems, so Symworld implemented a near real-time visibility monitoring system that is able to observe all of these elements and diagnose potential failures.
  • Virtualization: All of the network functions in Symworld are software running on commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) servers that provide flexible management. Additional software instances can be deployed automatically to boost capacity in the event of a flood of traffic. Virtualizing the network and having the functions run on servers in edge sites, regional data centers and cloud data centers also means that there is less equipment at each site, so there is less to fix/replace on the ground when something goes wrong.
  • Automation: When human intervention is needed for a network update or repair, it introduces the potential of an error that can impact reliability. With Zero Touch Provisioning, sites can be rapidly stood up remotely with minimal on-site field requirement. The Symworld platform provides significant automation, meaning that once the site is connected to the network and turned on, all of the technical activity to connect it to the network and download and configure software is done automatically, reducing the need for technicians in the field and dramatically reducing the time for recovery. For example, Rakuten Mobile can provision a new Symworld-based 5G cell site in just four minutes and a 4G site in 8.5 minutes.
“Rakuten Mobile can provision a new Symworld-based 5G cell site in just four minutes and a 4G site in 8.5 minutes.”


Mobile operators know that in times of emergency, the mobile network is essential. That makes it an imperative to design a resilient network that can be restored as soon as possible. The Rakuten Symphony team has designed Symworld from the ground up to improve the speed of recovery from network interruptions. Those lessons have been incorporated into solutions that are now offered to MNO customers worldwide.

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