Rakuten Mobile and Telefónica have struck an agreement to collaborate on the development of open radio access networks (OpenRAN) as well as 5G core and operations support systems (OSS).
This will include conducting lab tests and trials to support OpenRAN architectures, including the role of artificial intelligence (AI) in RAN networks.
They will jointly develop proposals for optimal 5G RAN architecture and OpenRAN models as part of industry efforts to achieve faster time to market, new price-points and the benefits of software-centric RAN.
Through the partnership, the companies will develop a joint procurement scheme for OpenRAN hardware and software, including central units (CUs), distributed units (DUs) and remote radio units (RRUs), to help achieve economies of scale.
Rakuten Mobile and Telefónica will also collaborate to build an open and cost-effective 5G ecosystem, based on open interfaces.
In addition, the companies will jointly work on 4G/5G Core and OSS technology used by Rakuten Mobile in Japan and its Rakuten Communications Platform, which aims to help telecom companies and enterprises build and deploy cloud-native network services.
"We're excited to collaborate with Telefónica on this shared vision of advancing OpenRAN," said Tareq Amin, Representative Director, Executive Vice President and CTO of Rakuten Mobile. "I envision our partnership to also co-explore further development around Rakuten Communications Platform that will enable operators around the world to take advantage of cost-effective cloud-native mobile network architecture that is secure and reliable."
Enrique Blanco, Chief Technology & Information Officer (CTIO) at Telefónica, added: “Telefónica strongly believes that networks are evolving towards end-to-end virtualisation through an open architecture, and OpenRAN is a key piece of the whole picture. Beyond the flexibility and simplicity that OpenRAN will provide, it will change the supplier ecosystem and revolutionise the current 5G industry in the medium and long term.”
“At the same time, open and virtualised networks will lead to a new telco operating model. Telefonica and Rakuten Mobile have signed this MoU to work towards evaluating and demonstrating the capability and feasibility of OpenRAN architectures and make them a reality,” Blanco said.