Rakuten Mobile Initiatives Selected by Japan’s NEDO for Research and Development of Enhanced Infrastructures for Post-5G Information Communication Systems

- Initiatives to enhance R&D and commercialization of virtualized 5G RAN and automation of network operations

Tokyo, June 30, 2020 - Rakuten Mobile, Inc. today announced that Japan’s New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization (NEDO) has selected two of its research and development initiatives to become part of the “Project for Research and Development of Enhanced Infrastructures for Post 5G Information Communication Systems.” On June 29, NEDO announced that it has selected the following two initiatives in line with the research theme of “developing post-5G information communications systems”: “development for technologies to improve the performance of the control units of virtualized base band units” and “technologies for integrated management and automated optimization for cloud-based networks.”

In the initiatives commissioned by NEDO, Rakuten Mobile will carry out technical development related to the enhancement of the virtualized radio access network (RAN) for fifth generation mobile communications systems networks (5G) and the automation of network operations. Additionally, by applying the results of the research and development to improve the efficiency of data transfer across its 5G network and network operations, Rakuten Mobile aims to offer higher quality network services and expand its commercial services globally.

Specific details of the research and development projects are as follows.

Research and development of virtualized 5G radio access equipment

  • Development theme: (c1) “Development of technologies to improve the performance of the control units of virtualized base band units”
  • Overview: This project involves adding new functionality to virtualized 5G radio access networks ahead of the post-5G era. In the project, technological research will be carried out into the optimization of base band units for virtualized standalone (SA) 5G networks to enable network slicing*1 from an early stage. In addition, the processing that occurs in the base band units of virtualized base stations will be optimized and new functionality compatible with the latest functions specified by 3GPP*2 will be added in order to reduce the resource overhead that arises from the use of virtualization*3. Through this, the company aims to not only triple the number of possible simultaneous connections to a 5G base station, but also reduce the installation and operation costs of a 5G network by more than 30% compared to non-virtualized 5G networks.
  • The results of the research will be applied to the RAN in the Rakuten Communications Platform (RCP), Rakuten Mobile’s fully virtualized and containerized cloud-native mobile network platform.
  • Period of project: July 2020 to the end of June 2023 (tentative)

Research and development of technologies for integrated management and automated optimization for cloud-based networks (OSS/MANO software)

  • Development theme: (a2) “Development of technologies for integrated management and automated optimization for cloud-based networks”
  • Overview: The project involves the development of technology to orchestrate end-to-end*4 network slicing (automation of setup, management and coordination). In addition, technology leveraging AI in predictive failure detection, root cause analysis when problems occur, and the real-time optimization of network resources will be developed and applied to improve orchestration.
  • The results of this research and development will be used to manage RCP infrastructure and network applications running on the platform, with the aim of improving the overall efficiency of the network.
  • Period of project: July 2020 to the end of September 2022 (tentative)

Post-5G information communications systems are expected to be the core of global competitiveness in the field of IT communications networks of the future. Rakuten Mobile built the world’s first end-to-end fully virtualized cloud-native mobile network*5, launching commercial services in October 2019. RCP, which combines the technology and expertise of Rakuten’s own network, will be offered to telecom companies and enterprises in Japan and around the world.

Rakuten Mobile aims to further enhance RCP through these research and development projects, with the aim of offering its customers an even higher quality network while contributing to the development of communications technologies required to boost Japan’s international competitiveness.

For additional information on NEDO and its research projects, please see links below:

https://www.meti.go.jp/english/press/2020/0415_002.html

https://www.nedo.go.jp/english/index.html

  • *1 The virtual separation of networks for different applications.
  • *2 3GPP (Third Generation Partnership Project) is a telecommunications standard development group comprised of carriers and vendors from around the world.
  • *3 Additional data processing that arises as a result of the use of virtualization technology.
  • *4 The route taken by a communication from a mobile device across the mobile network and on to another mobile device.
  • *5 As a large-scale commercial mobile network (as of October 1, 2019)/Stella Associa survey

*Please note that the information contained in press releases is current as of the date of release.

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