Having already deployed a futuristic cellular network in Japan, Rakuten Mobile is now bringing the expertise and experience it has gained to the rest of the world. A key partner in that endeavor is the India-based IT services company, Tech Mahindra.
The two high-tech companies have forged an agreement that makes Tech Mahindra a preferred partner for global deployments of the Rakuten Communications Platform (RCP), which is designed to enable telcos and enterprises to quickly and cost-effectively deploy cloud-native 4G and 5G networks. In a press briefing, CP Gurnani, CEO of Tech Mahindra, said “I think Mickey-san has taken this to the next level… by creating RCP,” referring to Mickey Mikitani, chairman and CEO of Rakuten.
As Gurnani explained, Tech Mahindra and Rakuten Mobile will bring RCP to three distinct market segments — existing mobile operators, new mobile operators and enterprises seeking to deploy private 5G networks. He noted that the COVID-19 pandemic has further increased demand for connectivity and digitization in healthcare, logistics, mining, manufacturing and many other sectors of the economy.
Mikitani outlined how Rakuten Mobile has used cloud-native technologies to reduce network operating costs by 30% and capital spending by 40% in Japan. “[Rakuten Communications Platform] is how we will take our learnings and our unique commitment to technology and innovation to the world,” he added. “It’s based on industry-disrupting technology that is democratizing mobile and making 5G deployment more competitive. Our open philosophy, our commitment to an open ecosystem will allow [our] customers to build agile efficient 5G networks around the world.”
Delivering agile and efficient 5G
Building on those remarks, Tareq Amin, EVP and CTO of Rakuten Mobile, stressed that RCP is intended to be an open collaborative development platform that is vendor-agnostic. Up to now, Rakuten Mobile has focused on proving “to the world that the platform is reliable, the platform is secure, the platform is elastic,” he added. “Before we go and deliver a platform to the rest of the world, we first need to showcase a successful roll-out, so we started with Rakuten Mobile in Japan… a really, really quality-obsessed society.”
Rakuten Mobile’s entire 5G technology stack is going to be deployed on RCP, Amin said, noting the partnership with Tech Mahindra is “big because it enables us to really go and address this market segment across different geographies.”
RCP is designed to enable businesses to deploy private 5G networks as easily as they deploy managed Wi-Fi services. “This platform enables the concept of simply click-purchase-deploy, [turning] years of network deployments into weeks,” Amin explained. “We think the market potential is really unbelievable and the ROI is very good for such an architecture.”
A collaboration between India, the U.S. and Japan
Noting the increasingly complex geopolitical climate surrounding the development of technology, Amin pointed out that much of RCP has been built by Japan-based Rakuten and U.S.-headquartered Altiostar Networks engineers working in Bengaluru. “We believe that India presents a really credible alternative” to other tech clusters, he added.
Observing that the Indian government is encouraging the development of a home-grown technology stack, Manish Vyas, president of the Communications, Media & Entertainment Business and CEO of Network Services at Tech Mahindra, said: “This partnership with RCP presents a brilliant opportunity for an Indo-Japanese collaboration in creating technology that not only can serve the Indian market, [but] can serve the global market…[it is] a massive endorsement of the collaboration that can happen between India, the U.S. and Japan.”
Its work with Rakuten Mobile has given Tech Mahindra a “seat at the table” in the development of a new technology stack for both telcos and enterprises, Vyas added. “Don’t think of this in the traditional vendor ecosystem model, think of this in terms of a revolutionary approach to telecommunications,” he added. “It’s truly cloud native, it’s truly open and it’s all about a platform rather than a product.”