Rakuten Mobile and Yokosuka Telecom Research Park Open RIC Research Facility for Further Advancement of Open RAN

Tokyo, July 31, 2023 - Rakuten Mobile, Inc. and Yokosuka Telecom Research Park Co., Ltd. today opened a new RIC (RAN Intelligent Controller)*¹ research facility at the Yokosuka Research Park in Kanagawa Prefecture, Japan, with the aim of contributing to the further advancement of Open RAN (Radio Access Network) development.

Rakuten Mobile will conduct research and development (R&D) on RIC at the research facility, while Yokosuka Telecom Research Park will provide the research location, as the two companies aim to accelerate the advancement of Open RAN technologies. The research facility will be used to verify improvements in network efficiency, power saving and security enhancements by deploying emulators for RIC development, and using RICs to manage Rakuten Mobile's test RAN environment according to network usage conditions.

Furthermore, the two companies will contribute to the international standardization of Open RAN, by sharing the insights gained at the research facility with the O-RAN ALLIANCE, an organization that promotes the formulation of Open RAN specifications, and Japan OTIC*², an organization that tests and certifies equipment based on O-RAN specifications.

The research facility is equipped with a verification environment that uses Rakuten Mobile's fully virtualized cloud-native mobile network, allowing domestic and international telecommunications and communication service provider equipment manufacturers and other Rakuten Mobile partners to access the research facility remotely to verify Open RAN integration and conduct RIC proof-of-concept (PoC) testing*³. In addition, by running the emulator software for Open RAN integration on a general-purpose server remotely available to other research facilities, Rakuten Mobile and Yokosuka Telecom Research Park will be able to establish a collaborative R&D environment with partners worldwide, unrestricted by geography boundaries, that facilitates rapid research and development.

Rakuten Mobile launched the world’s first large-scale, commercial Open RAN mobile network in Japan and is conducting various research projects to accelerate the advancement of Open RAN. The company is currently conducting research and development of RICs as principal researcher for a project sponsored by the National Institute of Information and Communications Technology (NICT), titled "Research and Development of Open RAN Wireless Communication Technologies to Realize Advanced RAN Infrastructure Beyond 5G."*⁴ With this new RIC research facility, Rakuten Mobile plans to take the lead in the research and development of RICs for use in commercial networks and also to utilize the research facility for the NICT-sponsored project.

Yokosuka Telecom Research Park provides the infrastructure necessary for conducting demonstration experiments of next-generation telco technology at the Yokosuka Research Park. The RIC research facility will utilize this location for RIC research and development.

Going forward, Rakuten Mobile and Yokosuka Telecom Research Park will continue to accelerate RIC research and development, whilst sharing the knowledge gained from the RIC research facility with the O-RAN ALLIANCE and Japan OTIC, to further advance Open RAN technology.

*1 RIC (RAN Intelligent Controller) is an open software-defined platform of the Open Radio Access Network (Open RAN) architecture that brings intelligent control and automation to the RAN using AI and ML.
*2 Japan OTIC opens in Yokosuka City as a testing and certification center for O-RAN solutions (December 20, 2022)
*3 Proof of Concept (PoC): To verify the feasibility of new ideas and concepts and the results that can be obtained from them.
*4 Rakuten Mobile starts research and development on RIC for Open RAN advancement Beyond 5G (February 28, 2023)
https://corp.mobile.rakuten.co.jp/news/press/2023/0228_01/ (Japanese website)

*The names of O-RAN ALLIANCE, O-RAN and their logo are trademarks or registered trademarks of O-RAN ALLIANCE e.V.
*The name of Japan OTIC and its logo are trademarks or registered trademarks.
*Product names and service names included in this press release are generally trademarks or registered trademarks of their respective companies. Trademarks such as “™” and “®” may be omitted when company trademarks are mentioned.

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

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