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Rakuten Mobile and NEC to build Open vRAN Architecture in Japan

Posted Jun 10, 2019 @ 0:36 CDT | Stock Ticker(s): TYO:6701, TYO:4755

TOKYO, June 5, 2019 - Rakuten Mobile, Inc., the mobile network subsidiary of Rakuten Group, and NEC Corporation, a leader in the integration of IT and network technologies, announced that the two companies have formed a partnership to build the world's first 5G open vRAN architecture in Japan. NEC has been selected to be the 5G network equipment provider for Rakuten Mobile's new and innovative network.

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Through the partnership, Rakuten and NEC will jointly develop a 3.7GHz massive MIMO 5G antenna radio unit (RU), which will be manufactured by NEC at its facilities in Japan. NEC's RU are ideal for 5G conditions as they are compact, lightweight and consume a low level of power, which reduces installation and operation costs.

Rakuten Mobile is currently building the world's first fully virtualized, end-to-end cloud-native mobile network. This innovative network is fully virtualized from radio access network to core and adopts 5G systems architecture from launch. In April 2019, Rakuten Mobile received approval from the Japanese Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications for its 5G special radio station deployment plan and aims to launch 5G services in June 2020.

In building the network, Rakuten is nurturing an open ecosystem by actively engaging with industry leaders in crafting solutions. Rakuten and NEC are already working together on an end-to-end BSS/OSS solution to support the mobile network launch and subsequent operations. The expansion of the partnership with NEC to include 5G network equipment further builds upon Rakuten's vision of the disaggregation of hardware and software and true end-to-end virtualization of mobile networks, especially in radio access.

"We are very excited to partner with a network technology leader such as NEC in building the world's first 5G open RAN architecture here in Japan," said Tareq Amin, chief technology officer of Rakuten Mobile, Inc. "NEC's technology and expertise will allow us to not only cost-effectively create a highly secure, high quality 5G network, but by designing and producing the antennas in the local market, we look forward to contributing to the development of the Japanese telecommunications industry and economy."

"NEC is delighted to contribute to Rakuten Mobile's strategy for building the world's first fully virtualized, end-to-end cloud native mobile network," said Atsuo Kawamura, executive vice president and president of the Network Services Business Unit at NEC Corporation. "Going forward, NEC aims to drive the global expansion of virtualized network architecture with Rakuten Mobile."

With 5G, the Rakuten Group and Rakuten Mobile aim to not only improve convenience for their users, but also to utilize the technology in a variety of fields and create new business opportunities to solve social issues and support regional development.

NEC, with its focus on providing "Solutions for Society," will leverage its technological strengths and experience in network construction to support operators in building out their 5G networks and accelerate the expansion of its operations internationally.

About Rakuten Mobile

Rakuten Mobile, Inc. is a Rakuten Group company that will operate a comprehensive range of businesses in mobile communications, as both a mobile network operator (MNO) and a mobile virtual network operator (MVNO), ICT and energy. Through innovation and advanced technology, Rakuten Mobile aims to provide appealing and convenient services that meet the needs of customers.

About NEC Corporation

NEC Corporation is a leader in the integration of IT and network technologies that benefit businesses and people around the world. The NEC Group globally provides "Solutions for Society" that promote the safety, security efficiency and fairness of society. Under the company's corporate message of "Orchestrating a brighter world," NEC aims to help solve a wide range of challenging issues and to create new social value for the changing world of tomorrow. For more information, visit NEC at https://www.nec.com.

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