Home5G & BeyondRakuten to launch Open RAN experience centre for Europe in UK

    Rakuten to launch Open RAN experience centre for Europe in UK


    Rakuten Symphony Orchestration

    Japanese mobile operator Rakuten Mobile is bring an Open RAN Customer Experience (ORCEX) Centre to the UK early in 2023. It says the centre should open in March 2023 at the offices of its systems integrator Rakuten Symphony. In the meantime, it as called for applications for research projects that may be conducted at the facility in Weybridge, Surrey.

    Mobile network operators and industry suppliers from across Europe and the Middle East will be able to test the latest technological advances in the field and revel in its advanced engineering. Rakuten Symphony will use the facility as a proving ground where partners can see if eclectic equipment really can work in union and be fine-tuned to perfect synchronicity. It will showcase the latest models singing from the same spec sheet in perfect harmony and conduct workshops.

    The ORCEX Centre has three objectives: validation, exhibition and orchestration. Proof of the interoperability of equipment in multi-vendor environment is the first primary objective. Secondly, it aims to show how the latest Open RAN hardware and software, such as the respective Radio, Central and Distributed units, can gel. It will also give visitors a chance to see next-generation mobile networks in operation and the types of service that could be rolled out.

    Finally, there will be workshops and events at ORCEX that take a more in depth look at Open RAN-related policies, trends and initiatives to European and overseas network operators and telecommunications equipment suppliers. It’s all about developing and showcasing the Open RAN ideal and reassuring people that it can support safe, open and transparent 5G networks, according to Nobuyuki Uchida, executive officer, division manager, technology, strategy & compliance division at Rakuten Mobile.

    “We are honoured to have the opportunity to build our first Open RAN Customer Experience Centre in the UK. We can provide an environment for testing Open RAN solutions and a hub for Open RAN thought leadership in Europe and the Middle East,” said Uchida, who has the dual responsibility as the SVP of global government relations for Rakuten Symphony.

    Japan’s Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications (MIC) and the UK’s Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport made a joint announcement in March 2022 regarding their commitment to supplier diversity in the telecommunications sector. As part of this commitment, Japan’s MIC has called for applications for research projects that show the compatibility of Japanese and global suppliers and raise public awareness about Open RAN networks. 

    Rakuten Mobile’s idea for ORCEX was funded by MIC as a chance to cement global strategic partnership between the UK and Japan. “We are very grateful for the support of the Japanese government,” said Rakuten Symphony UK MD Nastasi Karaiskos, “we look forward to establishing a foundation for Open RAN testing, education and thought leadership here in the UK.”

    The centre in the UK follows the launch of the Rakuten Mobile Open Innovation Lab in Tokyo in August 2022, a technology verification environment that uses the technologies and experience acquired by Rakuten Mobile through its Open RAN commercial mobile network.