1&1 has announced that it is entering into a long-term partnership with Rakuten to build a fully virtualised mobile network based on OpenRAN technology, as it seeks to become Germany’s fourth wireless network operator. With this, 1&1 is moving away from conventional proprietary networks, which are often provided overall by just one network supplier, towards a completely cloud-based multi-vendor network architecture. Rakuten will take over the build of the active network equipment and will also be responsible for the overall performance of the 1&1 mobile network. 1&1 will have access to the Rakuten Communications Platform (RCP) stack of access, core, cloud and operations solutions as well as to its partner network. In this context, Rakuten will also provide its specially developed orchestration software so that the 1&1 network can be operated in a highly automated manner. Construction of the 1&1 mobile network will start in the fourth quarter of 2021. Notably, following the signing of a national roaming agreement with Telefonica in May 2021, 1&1 will be able to offer its customers nationwide coverage during the construction phase of its new network.
‘With Rakuten, we have the world’s only OpenRAN expert on our side who really has extensive practical experience with this new technology. Rakuten ideally complements our know-how in telecommunications networks, data centres and cloud applications. Together we are building a high-performance mobile network that has extensive automation and agility to fully exploit the potential of 5G,’ said Ralph Dommermuth, CEO of 1&1, adding: ‘Through complete virtualisation and the use of standard hardware, we can flexibly combine the best products. This will make us a manufacturer-independent innovation driver in the German and European mobile market.’