Tokyo, Japan, February 12, 2019 – Rakuten today reported the success of the first real world test of its new mobile network and said it was on track for an October launch.
Soon to be the newest and most innovative mobile network operator in Japan, Rakuten Mobile Network, Inc. is currently building the world’s first end-to-end fully virtualized, cloud-native mobile network. The launch of commercial services planned for October 2019 will leverage an innovative architecture that is set to disrupt not only the telecom industry landscape in Japan but also the rest of the world. Built to serve millions of subscribers and adopting 5G systems architecture from launch, this will be world’s first cloud-native network that is fully virtualized from radio access network (RAN) to Core, with end-to-end automation for both network and services.
The first end-to-end real world tests of the new fully virtualized network were launched in a test of the data network on Sunday February 3 in suburban Tokyo, outside Rakuten’s headquarters. Rakuten Mobile Network executives, team members and partners joined Rakuten CEO Mickey Mikitani in a roving test around Rakuten Crimson House, successfully using the newborn data network to conduct voice and video calls over the Viber messaging platform. Review of data and performance metrics gathered through the testing phase will be crucial to ensuring a robust launch of the network in the latter part of 2019.
The testing ground will rapidly expand across the Kanto region and western Japan metropolitan centers, engaging up to 10,000 friendly users from Rakuten executives, employees and partners. The next stage of the project will include testing of the voice network.
“Rakuten has a founding vision of empowering people to realize their dreams and a history of disrupting the status quo to take the lead, in industries from e-commerce to fintech and digital content. We are very excited to launch a mobile network in Japan that is set to become the first choice of consumers and change global standards in telecommunications,” said Mickey Mikitani, Chairman, President and CEO, Rakuten, Inc. “With automation and virtualization, Rakuten is redefining how mobile networks are designed and how services can be consumed.”
The new Rakuten mobile network will be launched entirely on the cloud, with end-to-end automation and programmable infrastructure, ensuring stability, scalability and agility, as well as effectively managing costs. It will also leverage Rakuten’s extensive ecosystem of over 70 services in e-commerce, fintech and digital content to offer customers a value proposition without parallel in the market. The power of Rakuten’s brand with consumers and its existing customer base of over 100 million registered members will provide a robust foundation for rapid growth.
“Our vision is to build a network that innovates at the speed of software and scales at the speed of cloud and, with a culture founded in technical and operational innovation, we are uniquely positioned to achieve that,” said Tareq Amin, Rakuten Mobile Network’s Chief Technology Officer. “With a keen focus on minimizing complexity and disaggregating hardware and software, we are leveraging best-in-class technology from partners in Japan and around the world to provide a high quality, cost-effective service to our customers.”
The access to the network initially will be with 4G LTE (Macro and Small Cells) and Wi-Fi, with the addition of 5G planned for early 2020, subject to government licensing approval. This disruptive architecture will enable Rakuten Mobile Network to deliver a suite of services including consumer mobile, 5G fixed wireless Access, NB-IOT, connected everything, rich media, low latency services like augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR.) All these services will leverage the innovative Mobile Edge Computing (MEC) architecture to enable the best possible user experience.
Rakuten Mobile Network has brought together leading partners to collaborate on the most challenging technical problems in the mobile industry. Partners includes Cisco Systems, Nokia, Altiostar Networks, Intel, Red Hat, OKI, Fujitsu, Ciena, NEC/Netcracker, Qualcomm, Mavenir, Quanta Cloud Technology, Sercomm, Tech Mahindra, Allot, Innoeye, and Viavi.