Ashraf Dahod, CEO at Altiostar, is very proud. A year ago, CTO Tareq Amin dazzled the industry with bold promises:
"Revolutionary technological innovation behind the launch of the world’s first end-to-end fully virtualized cloud-native mobile network. Construction of radio antenna network underway; On track for October 2019 Japan launch ... Soon to be the newest and most innovative mobile network operator in Japan, Rakuten Mobile Network, Inc. is currently building the world’s first end-to-end fully virtualized, cloud-native mobile network. The launch of commercial services planned for October 2019 will leverage an innovative architecture that is set to disrupt not only the telecom industry landscape in Japan but also the rest of the world. Built to serve millions of subscribers and adopting 5G systems architecture from launch, this will be the world’s first cloud-native network that is fully virtualized from radio access network (RAN) to Core, with end-to-end automation for both network and services."
Amin had been a builder of Reliance Jio's remarkably cost-effective network, that connected 370 million Indians in less than 4 years. It runs so well that Jio declares a profit on prices often below $5/ month. It reflected the most advanced thinking, originating from Stanford (CORD, O-RAN, more) and now supported everywhere from China Mobile to the White House. (Where they have no idea what it means.)
It's March 2020 now, and the network is finally ready to go beyond trials. The first 3 million will get a free year and the regular price will be under US$30, much lower than the incumbents.
Altiostar has supplied a fully software cloud RAN, the first of the new generation to reach production. Nokia is actually doing systems integration; Cisco is providing cloud services.
Ashraf Dahod, CEO at Altiostar, is very proud.
“There were skeptics that said this could not be done and the technology was too new to scale, but through an unyielding vision of the future, singular focus, and intense effort of the team we are here today for the commercial launch of this network."
It was premature to name Amin "the most powerful person in wireless" last November. If the 5G is delivered soon and things run smoothly, he will deserve the award this year.
There are grounds for great enthusiasm, but a great deal remains to be proven. Huawei is taking a strong position that dedicated hardware will be much faster and more efficient. Ericsson and Samsung are still fighting back against open systems.
We're all watching closely.
Rakuten Launches First Real-World End-to-End Tests in a Fully Virtualized Cloud-Native Mobile Network
Tokyo, Japan, February 12, 2019 – Rakuten today reported the success of the first real world test of its new mobile network and said it was on track for an October launch.
Soon to be the newest and most innovative mobile network operator in Japan, Rakuten Mobile Network, Inc. is currently building the world’s first end-to-end fully virtualized, cloud-native mobile network. The launch of commercial services planned for October 2019 will leverage an innovative architecture that is set to disrupt not only the telecom industry landscape in Japan but also the rest of the world. Built to serve millions of subscribers and adopting 5G systems architecture from launch, this will be world’s first cloud-native network that is fully virtualized from radio access network (RAN) to Core, with end-to-end automation for both network and services.
- RAKUTEN MOBILE, INC.
Rakuten Mobile Unveils “Rakuten UN-LIMIT”: Unlimited Mobile Carrier Plan for Monthly Charge of 2,980 Yen
Tokyo, March 3, 2020 - Rakuten Mobile, Inc. today announced the “Rakuten UN-LIMIT” plan, a new mobile carrier service plan available for 2,980 yen per month that offers both unlimited data within Rakuten network areas and unlimited domestic calls with the use of Rakuten Link, the communication app developed by Rakuten. The company also announced a launch campaign offering 3 million subscribers the first full year of service free of monthly fees starting from the first day of their contract*1. Advance applications for new contracts will open online at 4 p.m. today and will be accepted from March 4 in Rakuten Mobile stores. The full service will launch on April 8, with applications to switch to the new plan for subscribers of the Free Supporter Program*2 and existing Rakuten Mobile MVNO service users, in addition to MNP (mobile number portability) contracts for those switching from other carriers also being accepted online and in-store from that day.
Rakuten Mobile has developed the world’s first fully virtualized mobile network*3. This network architecture allows for substantial reductions in capital investment and operation costs, enabling the operator to pass on these savings to subscribers through this simple and affordable service plan. The architecture also enables flexible deployment of new services and lays the groundwork for the low cost and speedy implementation of 5G. Rakuten Mobile aims to offer comprehensive communications services combining flexible service plans and cutting-edge technology, while leveraging synergies with the Rakuten Ecosystem and Rakuten Points loyalty program, to continue to improve services for subscribers.
1. Rakuten UN-LIMIT
Rakuten UN-LIMIT aims to offer subscribers a mobile plan that is simple, straightforward and easy-to-use for all subscribers, both in Japan and overseas. For a monthly fee of 2,980 yen, subscribers can enjoy unlimited data use within the Rakuten network service areas and 2GB of data per month within the service areas provided by both domestic and overseas Rakuten partners*4. With use of the Rakuten Link app, all calls and text messages within Japan, as well as calls and text messages from overseas to Japan, will also be free of charge*5. Additionally, an optional international calling service offering unlimited international calls from Japan to overseas as well as calls between overseas locations will be available for a monthly fee of 980 yen*5 starting April 8.
2. Contract process
Advance applications for new contracts will be available starting from 4 p.m. today online, and in Rakuten Mobile stores from March 4 until April 7, with products being shipped after April 8*6. Applications for MNP contracts will be accepted from April 8 online and in-store.
All current subscribers of the Free Supporter Program and the Rakuten Mobile MVNO service will also be able to switch from their current plan to Rakuten UN-LIMIT from April 8 online through the “My Rakuten Mobile” app or website, or the “Members Station” website*7. From April 8, applications for new contracts for the Rakuten Mobile MVNO service will no longer be accepted; however, Rakuten Mobile will continue to provide the MVNO service to existing subscribers.
Advance application page (Only available in Japanese): https://network.mobile.rakuten.co.jp/fee/un-limit/
3. Special campaigns
・3 million customers who subscribe to the plan will receive the first year of service free of monthly charges. This campaign is also open to subscribers who apply during the advance application period.
・ 3 million customers who subscribe to the plan and activate Rakuten Link (through SMS verification) by the end of the second month following the start of their contract will be awarded 3,300 Rakuten Points. This campaign is not open to Free Supporter Program subscribers.
・Customers who apply for new contracts online between March 3 and June 30 and activate Rakuten Link (through SMS verification) by August 31 will be awarded 3,000 Rakuten Points.
・ Subscribers will also receive an additional +1% point back incentive through the SPU (Super Point Up) program for purchases on Rakuten Ichiba for the duration of their contract, including any period free of monthly charges.
Rakuten Mobile aims to offer safe, stable and easy to use communications services to bring a new level of convenience and enjoyment to the lives of its subscribers.
*1 Limited to one contract and one application per customer. The number of eligible customers may change depending on the number of applications.
*2 Press release announcing the Free Supporter Program: https://global.rakuten.com/corp/news/press/2019/0906_02.html
*3 For a large scale commercial mobile network (as of October 1, 2019). Research: Stella Associa
*4 After the data allocation for the partner areas in Japan and overseas has been used up, data transfer speed will be limited to a maximum of 128kbps. Subscribers can purchase additional data through the “My Rakuten Mobile” app for 500 yen/1GB.
*5 The list of the 66 countries and regions can be found at the following site (Only available in Japanese): https://network.mobile.rakuten.co.jp/service/international-call/
*6 Advance applications will be accepted online until 8:59 a.m. on April 8 and in-store until the store closes on April 7. Depending on the volume of deliveries, products may be shipped after April 8. For advance applications where the subscriber has only purchased a device, products will be shipped within a minimum of two days.
*7 Subscribers of the Free Supporter Program will not be charged an administration fee. However, please note that Rakuten Mobile MVNO service subscribers will be charged an administration fee.