Rakuten, the Japanese e-commerce giant announced its intent to deploy a mobile network in 2018 and formalized its plan at MWC 2019, when it announced its technology suppliers: Altiostar, Cisco, Intel, Mavenir, NEC, Nokia, Qualcomm, and Quanta. A vital difference from traditional radio networks is that Altiostar will be providing virtualized Cloud RAN elements while radio heads will be supplied by Nokia. This is the first large-scale, nationwide contract where a mobile service provider has selected a small vendor to provide radio infrastructure. Moreover, Rakuten placed a strategic investment on Altiostar, who reports that it will use this new round of investment to develop 5G infrastructure. Rakuten’s network plans are indeed impressive: it is building a fully virtualized, cutting-edge-technology network that will surely be envied by all mobile service providers around the world.
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