The Japanese company aims to launch mobile services in Japan in October 2019
Japanese e-commerce giant Rakuten announced plans to invest in U.S.-based virtualized Radio Access Network (vRAN) vendor Altiostar, as the former company is on track to launch a mobile network in Japan using vRAN in October.
Rakuten said that the investment in Altiostar is still subject to regulatory approval by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the U.S. Rakuten did not provide further details about the terms of the deal, including the size of the investment.
Altiostar will utilize the financing to expand its vRAN solutions for 4G and 5G in order to “accelerate the industry paradigm shift to web-scale cloud-native mobile networks,” the company said.
“Our vision for Rakuten Mobile Network is to build the world’s first end-to-end, fully virtualized, software-defined mobile network. A network that innovates at the speed-of-software and scales at the speed-of-cloud,” said Tareq Amin, CTO of Rakuten Mobile Network. “The whole Rakuten team is looking forward to working closely with Altiostar to take a leadership role in driving RAN virtualization and to bring disruptive innovation to the mobile industry.”
“Open RAN architecture and virtualization are key to building software-centric networks that can scale and adapt to meet an explosion of devices and applications driving service velocity and profits,” said Ashraf Dahod, CEO of Altiostar Networks. “This funding is going to help us expand our technology innovation to help operators like Rakuten to push new business models and bring affordable broadband to the masses through web-scale mobile networks.”
Other companies that have already invested in Altiostar include Qualcomm, Cisco and Tech Mahindra, among others.
Rakuten Mobile Network received approval for its Special Base Station Deployment Plan in April 2018 and aims to launch its first services as a mobile network operator in October 2019. The Japanese company aims to acquire at least 15 million subscribers in an initial phase of the mobile deployment.
Rakuten also said it expects to invest at least JPY 200 billion ($1.75 billion) at the start of the service in 2019, and a maximum of JPY 600 billion in 2025.
In October 2018, Rakuten Mobile Network conducted a 5G trial in collaboration with Nokia and Intel. Rakuten used the Nokia AirScale base station and the Intel 5G Mobile Trial Platform for the technology trial. The trials were carried out at the Nokia Kawasaki Technology Center located in Kanagawa Prefecture in Japan to evaluate fundamental 5G capabilities in the 28 GHz frequency band. Rakuten and Nokia said they have verified a number of 5G applications, including 4K video and 3D, 360-degree VR live streaming.
Rakuten Mobile Network is currently collaborating with a number of vendors, including Nokia, on the design and construction of its nationwide mobile network. Rakuten Mobile Network and Nokia said they will continue to work together to test and evaluate future 5G technologies.
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