Rakuten Mobile, Rakuten Symphony and Rakuten Symphony UK announced their plans to build an open RAN Customer Experience Center at the Rakuten Symphony offices in the United Kingdom by March 2023.
Earlier in March 2022, Japan's Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications (MIC) and the UK's Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport announced their commitment to supplier diversity in the telecom sector. As part of the same, Japan's government has called for research projects that would undertake the validation of equipment interoperability between Japanese and global suppliers along with promoting awareness about Open RAN Networks.
Open RAN Technologies
The center will offer telcos and industry suppliers in the European and Middle East Regions experience and testing of the latest technological advances in the field. Rakuten Symphony also plans to utilise the facility to further develop and promote Open RAN technologies with partners to validate, exhibit and demonstrate the latest technologies.
As more and more dependency on Networks increases to connect the world, demands on mobile networks diversify and hence need for open standards. Open RAN is a mobile technology where the protocols and interfaces for the various equipment in the radio access network (RAN) are open, enabling interoperability between equipment and systems from different vendors. This flexibility and standards allow the operators to build multi-vendor networks and reduce network costs.
The Open RAN Customer Experience center to be built will focus on three goals.
Validate the interoperability of devices under specifications set by the O-RAN Alliance.
2. Exhibit the latest Open RAN Technologies
Exhibit the Open RAN technology - hardware and software, to demonstrate how next-generation networks can be used to improve efficiency and services.
3. Workshops and Events
To promote Open RAN Technologies, the experience center will hold workshops and events to introduce the Open RAN technology eco-system, policies and initiatives to network operators and telecom equipment suppliers.
The proposal to establish a new Open RAN Customer Experience Center will be funded by MIC because of its potential to contribute to the strategic partnership between the UK and Japan.
Rakuten Mobile has been a member of the O-RAN Alliance since 2020 and actively contributes to the technical development and global adoption of innovative, open and intelligent RAN. This new experience center in the UK follows the launch of the Open Innovation Lab in Tokyo in August 2022.