Open RAN does, in theory, promise a far more open and diverse vendor pool, and some significant cost savings. However, there is a tendency to see some of the same names positioning themselves as ideal partners. And there are legitimate questions on how "open" open RAN really is or will become.
Rakuten Symphony, and others, are a welcome new pool of companies looking to disrupt the market by creating vendor-neutral platforms to build customizable networks at scale, speed and cost-effeciency.
Rakuten Symphony, specifically, has taken a bold position in what is traditionally a closed and cautious industry. Its parent company, Rakuten, announced its cellular network plans in 2018 and deployed in 2020, the first ever fully virtualized network. That experience and expertise led it to launch Rakuten Symphony in 2021 in an effort to make their virtual network platform available to carriers across the globe. It hasn’t been a slow, or quiet, start, with important acquisitions such as that of Robin.io, and partnerships in markets such as Germany and the United States.
Geoff Hollingworth is Rakuten Symphony’s CMO. An industry veteran, Hollingworth is a firm believer in the power of cloud and software, and their growing role in the design and roll-out of cellular networks. In this interview, he lays out the history of Symphony, his vision for open infrastructure, and how this revolution is, in their eyes, inevitable.
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