Rakuten Mobile Network, the mobile network subsidiary of Japan’s e-commerce giant Rakuten Group, and India’s Tech Mahindra have signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to test software-based virtual networks with an eye toward codeveloping 4G and 5G services. The pair will work together to build 4G and 5G software defined network laboratories in Tokyo, Japan, and Bengaluru, in India. It is understood that, amongst other things, Rakuten will proffer its experience in network virtualisation, while Tech Mahindra will contribute its technical know-how in areas such as cloud and network capabilities. With testing set to get underway before the end of the year, Rakuten continues to bolster partnerships both at home and abroad ahead of its debut as Japan’s fourth major mobile carrier in October 2019. The precise level of investment from both companies is yet to be agreed, but Rakuten’s head of communications Yoshihisa Yamada is quoted by Nikkei Daily as saying the ‘the cost will exceed tens of millions of yen, or hundreds of thousands of dollars.’ Rakuten hopes to save on capital investment by employing virtual network technologies untapped by the existing three big players, Amin said, adding that ‘the strategy works uniquely well for Rakuten because it has no existing networks.’
As previously reported by CommsUpdate, earlier this month Rakuten Mobile Network teamed up with Nokia to successfully conduct over-the-air 5G trials using the Nokia AirScale base station and the Intel 5G Mobile Trial Platform. The trials, which utilised the 28GHz band, were carried out in a shielded room at the Nokia Kawasaki Technology Centre located in Kanagawa Prefecture. The two companies verified a number of 5G applications including 4K video and 3D 360-degree VR live streaming.