Rakuten Mobile tees up 5G OpenRAN trial in Singapore

Rakuten said that operators can benefit from flexibility and accelerated innovation via OpenRAN. (Getty Images)

Japan’s Rakuten Mobile is teaming up with mobile operator TPG to test 5G open RAN solutions in Singapore.

Rakuten is in the process of building out its own new 4G mobile network in Japan, and has touted it as the world’s first end-to-end fully virtualized, cloud-native network.

The 5G technology collaboration aligns with Rakuten’s open, multivendor network approach, and aims to accelerate the adoption of next-generation networks built on open interfaces.

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RELATED: Rakuten builds a greenfield wireless network in Japan

Rakuten said that operators can benefit from flexibility and accelerated innovation from OpenRAN that delivers programmable radio access network (RAN) solutions based on General Purpose Processing Platforms (GPPP) and disaggregated software.

“The strategic partnership is a validation of Rakuten Mobile’s strategy and we are happy to share our innovative end-to-end virtualization solutions built on our vision of an open and multivendor mobile network ecosystem,” said Tareq Amin, Chief Technology Officer of Rakuten Mobile in a statement. “Singapore’s high fiber density makes it uniquely suited for rapid OpenRAN adoption and successful implementation.”

TPG, a subsidiary of Australia’s TPG Telecom Group, operates a 4G network in Singapore, and to date has signed up 300,000 customers.

“TPG is pleased to partner with Rakuten Mobile for this trial. Such efforts can help to accelerate the adoption of next generation 5G mobile networks with software-defined technology based on open interfaces and community-developed standards running on open hardware,” said Richard Tan, General Manager & Acting CEO of TPG Telecom, in a statement.

RELATED: Vodafone just gave open RAN vendors a huge opportunity

Operators like Vodafone and Telefonica are some examples of major players who have shown early support and initiated their own Open RAN efforts.

In the U.S., Dish Networks said it decided it will go with an Open RAN architecture for its forthcoming mobile network. and executives have pointed to Rakuten’s approach as a good template for the satellite provider’s new entry into wireless. Unlike Rakuten though, Dish plans to build a 5G network from scratch, rather than 4G.

RELATED: Rakuten plans April launch with 4,400 base stations

Rakuten has hit some deployment delays with its own mobile network, but in January noted continued progress with more than 3,000 base stations on air. The operator plans to have 4,400 base stations by the time of its commercial launch planned for April.

Rakuten is already trialing its network in Japan though, starting with 5,000 participating as part of its Free Supporter Program in October, and expanding that to an additional 20,000 late last month.

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