Rakuten has expressed its desire to export its open RAN platform to other operators, but those that choose this route may be limited to the vendors and features on Rakuten’s roadmap.
Rakuten Mobile (referred to hereafter as Rakuten) and Telefónica announced, in September 2020, that they would form a partnership to co-develop open radio access network (RAN) products and set up a joint procurement centre, thereby addressing a challenge in the emerging open networks space. The principle behind open RAN is to create a multi-vendor ecosystem based on open interfaces, but it is no small feat to integrate and test components from a large number of vendors. The work done by Rakuten and Telefónica with their own vendors may accelerate their deployments, but it may ultimately limit other vendors’ access to the market, thereby reducing the level of true openness.
This comment examines the rationale for the partnership between Rakuten and Telefónica and explains how the partnership might affect the overall open RAN mission.