NTT Docomo and Rakuten are expected to join with British organizations in promoting a new communications network amid economic security concerns over China’s growing influence over the field. The two players are likely to share information about research and development on Open RAN, or Open Radio Access Network, with British enterprises and institutions, the source added.
Open RAN has industry-wide standards enabling its interoperability with multiple vendors’ equipment for cellular wireless networks. In 2022, the Japanese and British governments made an agreement to cooperate in enhancing the technology.
By using Open RAN, many democracies concerned about communist China have recently been aiming to avoid a situation where control of important communications infrastructure is ceded over to foreign players, such as China’s Huawei Technologies.
Docomo and Rakuten were selected following their successful bids in response to an October 2022 call for proposals by the National Institute of Information and Communications Technology to subcontract research and development on Open RAN networks.
The Japanese state-run institute hopes that the two firms will help improve trust in Open RAN and contribute to energy saving while exchanging information on the progress and state of development of the technology.
Apart from Britain, Japan has entered into similar partnerships with the United States, Australia, India and Singapore. In January, Tokyo and Washington also inked a memorandum to spread Open RAN.
The British government, meanwhile, has abstained itself from Huawei after announcing in 2020 that it would no longer allow the use of the company’s technology in 5G mobile communications network due to unresolved security concerns.