Rakuten taps Nokia for mobile backhaul

Nokia sign at MWC18
Last month, Nokia announced it will operate Rakuten Mobile's virtualized core network. (FierceWireless)

Rakuten has tapped Nokia to provide optical transport technology under a new contract for the operator’s mobile backhaul network in Japan.  

Rakuten Mobile is poised to become Japan’s fourth major operator when it launches 4G commercial services next month on its fully virtualized cloud-native network, with 5G services planned in the future.

Nokia said the network is built on nationwide optical infrastructure that covers all of the country’s 47 prefectures and supports both backhaul and data center interconnect applications.

The Finnish vendor’s wavelength routing technology will be used in both Rakuten’s long-haul and metro optical networks, building a reconfigurable photonic mesh that Nokia called “the first of its kind” for a mobile backhaul network.

RELATED: Nokia operates Rakuten Mobile’s virtualized core

Specifically, Rakuten is deploying the Nokia 1830 Photonic Service Switch to help grow network bandwidth more easily and accelerate 4G and 5G service rollouts. Nokia said its Photonic Service Engine 3 (PSE03) super coherent chipset and C+L Ultra-Wideband wavelength routing will optimize Rakuten’s backbone network for maximum capacity and lowest cost per bit.

“Rakuten Mobile is creating the world’s first end-to-end fully virtualized cloud-native mobile network, delivering unprecedented network agility and disruptive economics to end users,” said Rakuten Mobile CTO Tareq Amin in a statement.  “Nokia’s Photonic Service Engine 3 coherent chipset and integrated ROADM technology enables us to achieve unprecedented levels of integration and performance building the mobile network for 4G and 5G.”

RELATED: Rakuten Mobile eyes global ambitions, readies for April launch in Japan

Rakuten had named Nokia as a vendor partner early in its network efforts, and the latest work builds on the relationship. Last month Nokia announced it will operate Rakuten Mobile’s virtualized core network under a managed services contract. Nokia had said it's supporting more than 160 virtual network functions (VNFs) across Rakuten’s two main data centers.

Speaking at a Qualcomm event in late February, Amin gave credit to Nokia for opening up its remote radio head interfaces to Altiostar as part of the mobile network build.