Asia Business Channel

Rakuten completes first tests for its new “Virtualized cloud-native mobile network”

Japanese e-commerce and Internet giant Rakuten has reported the success of the first real world test of its new mobile network telecommunications system and said it was on track for an October launch. The Rakuten Mobile Network is the world’s first end-to-end fully virtualized, cloud-native mobile network. The launch of commercial services in October 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 in early February in suburban Tokyo, outside Rakuten’s headquarters. Rakuten Mobile Network executives, team members and partners joined Hiroshi “Mickey” Mikitani, Rakuten’s CEO, 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.

Hiroshi Mikitani, CEO of Rakuten said of the tests that: “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. 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.

Tareq Amin, Rakuten Mobile Network’s Chief Technology Officer, said this about the new network: “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. 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.”

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