What's New: Intel today announced it will provide technology to internet services leader Rakuten* for a new cloud-native network. It will be fully virtualized from radio access network (RAN) to core and will adopt an innovative 5G systems architecture from its launch. The network is significant as it will offer end-to-end automation for both network and services. It is being built to serve millions of subscribers in Japan.
"Rakuten, already a leader in e-commerce and fintech markets has now built a mobile network from the ground up that runs on Intel® Xeon® Scalable processors and uses Intel® FPGAs for acceleration. This end-to-end cloud-native, automated network is innovative in its approach, and will allow Rakuten to rapidly scale mobile services on an agile, software-defined network."
–Sandra Rivera, Intel senior vice president, Network Platforms Group
Why It Matters: This architecture uses Intel® Xeon® processors and Intel® FPGA-based accelerators that allow Rakuten greater agility and flexibility, and the ability to scale outside Japan and to offer services at a lower cost to consumers. The launch of commercial services planned for October will leverage an innovative architecture that is set to disrupt not only the telecom industry landscape in Japan but also across the rest of the world.
What Already has been Tested: Initial end-to-end real-world tests of the new fully-virtualized network were conducted on Feb. 3 in suburban Tokyo. A roving test successfully used the data network to conduct voice and video calls over the Rakuten Viber mobile messaging platform. A review of data and performance metrics from the test phase will ensure a robust launch of the network.
What Rakuten is Saying: "Intel powers the backbone of our network — the high-performance Intel Xeon processors across data centers, core network and radio access network. We believe this full end-to-end virtualized network will help us to shift away from reliance on dedicated hardware and legacy infrastructure," said Tareq Amin, chief technology officer, Rakuten Mobile Network. "This is a win for customers, too. We will be able to reach new cloud-like operational efficiency, and that passes on cost-savings to our customers as well."
How It Works: The Rakuten network uses a virtualized radio access network running on Intel Xeon processor-based servers from Quanta*, support radio access technology from Altiostar* and core network software from Cisco*, providing a network that is fully virtualized from RAN to core.
Rakuten is also adopting multi-access edge computing (MEC) with Intel to extend its network, putting server-like devices closer to the network edge. Placement at the network edge means faster speeds and almost no latency in applications and rich media content. Rakuten is looking to deliver even more new communications and data-rich services with the network that will help its existing users of e-commerce, fintech, digital content and communications.
More Context: Rakuten News Release | Intel 5G & Wireless Communications News | Intel at 2019 MWC