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Rakuten splits from Symphony in bid for operator harmony 

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Now it’s free to sell OpenRAN systems and services to a global audience

Japanese mobile operator group Rakuten is splitting off its Symphony unit into a separate subsidiary. The goal is distance its core mobile operator business from its burgeoning business offering services to mobile operators.

In essence Rakuten is giving the Symphony services unit greater license to solve the 4G and 5G infrastructure problems of other mobile operators and clients needing private networks. 

The purpose of the company split detailed on Market Screener is to provide clarity of purpose with Symphony offering the “communication cloud platform for carriers, businesses and government agencies around the world”. It will consolidate products and services for open RAN-based mobile networks including Rakuten Communications Platform (RCP).

Rakuten owns the Symphony

All of the 2,000 shares in the new Symphony company are owned by Rakuten. The newly liberated business unit will concentrate on providing OpenRAN services, under the direction of Tareq Amin, who is currently Rakuten’s chief technology officer.

“The business aims to provide a future-proof, cost-effective, communication cloud platform for carriers, businesses and government agencies around the world,” said an official statement. 

The Symphony brand was launched in August 2021 when German mobile operator 1&1 and Rakuten embarked on a joint venture to build Europe's first fully virtualised mobile network on OpenRAN technology. “1&1 has agreed to comprehensively adopt RCP. The business has been steadily accumulating its achievements,” said a Rakuten statement. 1&1 needs a highly-automated, virtualised 5G network to improve its ranking in the German mobile market. 

OpenRAN is an unfinished symphony

In August 2021 Rakuten bought US vendor Altiostar for its virtualised and OpenRAN technology. Symphony announced a partnership with Juniper Networks and Intel, in October, in order to develop a new type of distributed unit (DU) for its OpenRAN tool box.

Symphony has been unleashed just as Europe’s operators are desperate for OpenRAN. In November, according to Telecoms.com, Deutsche Telekom, Orange, TIM, Telefónica and Vodafone issued a warning that their suppliers needed to do better.

Unless Europe’s equipment makers solved their OpenRAN challenges, the big five operators threatened to buy solutions elsewhere. Their supporting evidence was a report from Analysys Mason, which put the strength of demand for global OpenRAN products at €36.1 billion by 2026.