November 21, 2022, Tokyo, Japan – Rakuten Mobile, Inc., Rakuten Symphony, Inc. and Rakuten Symphony UK Ltd. today announced plans to build an Open RAN Customer Experience Center at the Rakuten Symphony offices in the United Kingdom by March 2023. The center will offer telecom operators and industry suppliers in the European and Middle East region direct experience and testing of the latest technological advances in the field. In order to further develop and promote Open RAN technologies to support safe, open and transparent 5G networks, Rakuten Symphony plans to utilize the facility with partners to validate equipment interoperability, establish exhibition facilities to demonstrate the latest technologies and conduct workshops.
“We are honored to have the opportunity to build our first Open RAN Customer Experience Center in the UK where we can provide an environment for testing Open RAN solutions, as well as establish a hub for Open RAN thought leadership in Europe and the Middle East,” said Nobuyuki Uchida, executive officer, division manager, technology, strategy & compliance division at Rakuten Mobile, Inc. and senior vice president of global government relations, Rakuten Symphony.
Japan’s Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications (MIC) and the UK’s Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport made a joint announcement in March 2022 regarding their commitment to supplier diversity in the telecommunications sector. As part of this commitment, Japan’s MIC called for applications for research projects that would both undertake validation of equipment interoperability between Japanese suppliers and global suppliers, as well as promote public awareness about Open RAN networks. Rakuten Mobile’s proposal to establish a new Open RAN Customer Experience Center and evaluate interoperable technologies was selected for funding by MIC, because of its potential to contribute to this global strategic partnership between the UK and Japan.
Nastasi Karaiskos, managing director, Rakuten Symphony UK commented “We are very grateful for the support of the Japanese government and look forward to establishing a foundation for Open RAN testing, education and thought leadership here in the UK.”
Open RAN is a type of mobile technology where the protocols and interfaces for the various equipment in the radio access network (RAN) are open, enabling interoperability between equipment and systems from different vendors. As demands on mobile networks diversify, Open RAN makes it possible to build multi-vendor networks, allowing operators to flexibly procure network equipment and reduce network construction costs. In addition, the open standards offer greater security and transparency in the RAN.
The Open RAN Customer Experience Center will be focused on three goals:
1) Validate the interoperability of devices in accordance with specifications set by the O-RAN Alliance.
The Open RAN Customer Experience Center will validate equipment interoperability in a multi-vendor environment by performing connection confirmation verification.
2) Establish exhibition facilities to demonstrate the latest Open RAN technologies.
Create an exhibition facility to demonstrate how the latest Open RAN hardware and software - such as the Radio Unit, Central Unit and Distributed Unit - and next-generation mobile networks will be used to improve operational efficiency and new services.
3) Conduct workshops and events.
With the aim of promoting Open RAN technologies, the center will hold workshops and events that introduce Open RAN-related policies, trends and initiatives to European and overseas network operators and telecommunications equipment suppliers.
Rakuten Mobile is already recognized for its commitment to Open RAN technologies with the launch and operation of the world-first cloud-native fully virtualized mobile network. It has been a member of the O-RAN Alliance since 2020 and continues to strive to contribute to the technical development and global adoption of innovative, open and intelligent RAN. The center in the UK follows the launch of the Rakuten Mobile Open Innovation Lab in Tokyo in August 2022, a technology verification environment that utilizes the technologies and experience acquired by Rakuten Mobile through its Open RAN commercial mobile network.
Reference: Please see the link below for the Joint Announcement on Telecommunications Supplier Diversity between the UK’s Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport and Japan’s Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications. https://www.soumu.go.jp/main_content/000797715.pdf
About Rakuten Mobile
Rakuten Mobile, Inc. is a Rakuten Group company responsible for mobile communications, including mobile network operator (MNO) and mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) businesses, as well as ICT. Through continuous innovation and the deployment of advanced technology, Rakuten Mobile aims to redefine expectations in the mobile communications industry in order to provide appealing and convenient services that respond to diverse customer needs.
About Rakuten Symphony
Rakuten Symphony is reimagining telecom, changing supply chain norms and disrupting outmoded thinking that threatens the industry’s pursuit of rapid innovation and growth. Based on proven modern infrastructure practices, its open interface platforms make it possible to launch and operate advanced mobile services in a fraction of the time and cost of conventional approaches, with no compromise to network quality or security. Rakuten Symphony has headquarters in Japan and local presence in the United States, Singapore, India, Europe and the Middle East Africa region. For more information, visit: https://symphony.rakuten.com/