Mickey Mikitani, Chairman and CEO, Rakuten Group
I am delighted to share with you the news that Rakuten Mobile received two of the mobile industry’s top five global awards at the 2021 Mobile World Congress (MWC) in Barcelona.
In addition to winning the Best Mobile Technology Breakthrough award, Rakuten Mobile received Global Mobile Awards top annual industry award from the global telco industry: the CTO’s Choice Award, for its 5G OpenRAN on Kubernetes solution.
“I always remind myself that change tends to come much faster than I can imagine.”Mickey Mikitani, Chairman and CEO, Rakuten Group
The Global Mobile Awards (GLOMO) are widely recognized as the most prestigious in the mobile industry, and judged by independent experts, analysts, journalists, academics and mobile operator representatives.
As I reflect back on what it means to envision the future and how my experiences since an early age have shaped my thinking, I always remind myself that change tends to come much faster than I can imagine.
That kind of thinking helped me when we founded Rakuten’s e-commerce business 24 years ago. Back then, many e-commerce sites had come and gone. Doubters were spreading negative predictions on e-commerce everywhere. But we kept our faith that the transition to online shopping would emerge and it would accelerate rapidly, once it began.
“we are standing on the shoulders of telecom industry futurists.”
That kind of thinking helped us start our journey toward becoming a mobile network operator in 2018. We saw how digital transformation was impacting every industry. And, telecom would massively benefit from it.
So, we jumped in, knowing it would not be easy but once we emerged as a Digital Service Provider, things would move faster than we can imagine. We launched our 4G service in April 2020, a software-centric, automation-powered and completely open RAN network that is fully virtualized from Core to RAN on OpenStack. Six months later, we launched 5G NSA service, this time with containerized open RAN on Kubernetes with even higher levels of automation. Meanwhile, doubters spread negative rumors about Open RAN, vRAN, and our deployment. But we are working hard with our heads down and focused on serving our rapidly-growing base of subscriber applicants that has grown beyond four million.
It is humbling to see industry leaders recognize our hard work. OpenSignal did an independent study back in October 2020 ranking us against other operators for the highest upload speed experience. Six months later, they did another measurement and ranked us not only for the highest upload speed experience, but also the best voice app experience. Another group, umlaut, also conducted an independent measurement, this time comparing our performance across major operators in major cities across the globe. Our network performance in Tokyo ranked above “very good” and close to “outstanding.”
Now, at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, we are humbled once again to win two awards: the CTO Choice: Outstanding Mobile Technology Award and the Best Mobile Technology Breakthrough for our 5G OpenRAN on Kubernetes. This is the power of the digital service provider that helps us to accelerate and scale quickly.
“we are working hard with our heads down and focused on serving our rapidly-growing base of subscriber applicants that has grown beyond four million.”
I am not writing this to toot our own horn. I am writing this in humility as I am fully aware that we are standing on the shoulders of telecom industry futurists who, almost a decade ago, wrote on telecom digitalization in the seminal white paper on Network Function Virtualization in October of 2012.
I am writing this to urge us all to lean into the future and make it easier for all operators to become Digital Service Providers (DSPs). We are doing our share with offering Rakuten Communications Platform (RCP) globally, an “easy button” to help operators become DSPs faster and with less cost.
We will continue to be on an accelerated pace of innovation with RCP for our own deployment and for all operators globally.
Thank you for all your support and hard work! I look forward to us all walking together to bring digital transformation to all telco operators, since I know from experience that change happens faster than we can imagine.
The above message is an edited version of an email sent to all Rakuten employees on July 1, 2021, after Rakuten Mobile received both the Best Mobile Technology Breakthrough award and the CTO’s Choice Award, for its 5G OpenRAN on Kubernetes solution at GSMA’s 2021 Global Mobile (GLOMO) Awards at MWC in Barcelona.