Japanese e-commerce major Rakuten Group has signed a 10-year contract to build, run and maintain a fully-virtualised network for Germany’s 1&1 AG.
While the company declined to disclose the value of the deal, Nikkei newspaper reported its worth at over 250 billion yen ($2.3 billion).
“We are defnitely a front-runner in this field and I think we have a couple of years in headstart advantage,” Rakuten Chief Executive Officer Hiroshi Mikitani said in an interview with Bloomberg Television. “Addressable market will be somewhere between $100 billion to $150 billion in two to three years,” added Mikitani.
Further, it has created Rakuten Symphony, a unit that will offer network solutions to mobile carriers. The Japanese company which revolutionised the wireless market with its flexible and affordable service offerings has already held discussions with dozens of clients around the world.
Rakuten said it is the first mobile carrier in the world to build a service using next-generation radio access network architecture that allows for more extensive use of the cloud and frees the operator from hardware-vendor lock-in.
Separately, Rakuten acquired the remaining shares of Altiostar Networks Inc., making the US-based telecom software developer a fully-owned subsidiary.
Building 5G networks
In February, Rakuten Mobile bagged a deal from Ligado Networks to design a private 5G network. Ligado is currently a network operator of mobile satellite service (MSS) to government and commercial customers across North America.
This network will use the Japanese operator’s customisable platform, something which Rakuten brings as a key ingredient in designing next-gen networks, based on the Rakuten Communications Platform (RCP). The need for alternative approaches towards designing a telco network is assuming significance in the wake of 5G, the ongoing trade war between the US and China as well as cost pressures on carriers when it comes to building new networks.