Telefónica and Rakuten sign an MOU aiming to deploy an Open RAN system

Telefónica and Rakuten sign an MOU aiming to deploy an Open RAN system

On September 16, 2020, Japanese operator Rakuten Mobile has signed a Memorandum of Understanding MOU with Spanish telecom giant Telefónica. Under the new agreement, the partners will conduct trials of open RAN architectures and will develop proposals for the role of Artificial Intelligence in the RAN. On the other hand, the Spanish and Japanese operators will collaborate in building an open and cost-effective 5G ecosystem, based on open interfaces, that will help accelerate the maturity of 5G with global roaming, states Telefónica.

According to Fire Wireless, Telefónica plans to deploy Open RAN in three phases until 2022. However, between 2022 to 2025, 50% of Telefonica’s 5G deployments will use open RAN. The use of this technology allows for a wider, more competitive RAN ecosystem, as well as greater customizability and a range of cost savings, according to Total Telecom.

“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, according to Telefónica. Moreover, he added, “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, CTO and Chief Information Officer at Telefónica, said in a statement, “Telefónica strongly believes that networks are evolving toward end-to-end virtualization through an open architecture, and open RAN is a key piece of the whole picture. Telefónica and Rakuten Mobile have signed this MoU to work toward evaluating and demonstrating the capability and feasibility of open RAN architectures and make them a reality”. Blanco explained that the decision to collaborate with Rakuten is commercial rather than technical. The telecom giant will also collaborate with Rakuten on 4G and 5G deployment.

The use of Open RAN is crucial for telecom companies like Telefónica as it will allow them to secure parts for their emerging 5G systems from a wide range of companies without relying on Huawei.

This month, the Japanese operator will rollout the world’s first greenfield 5G network built with fully modular Open Radio Access Network O-RAN technology, according to Investable Universe.