Construction of Europe’s First Fully Virtualized Mobile Network Based On the New OpenRAN technology!
1&1 AG and Rakuten Group, Inc. enter into a long-term partnership to build the fourth mobile network in Germany.
Together with Rakuten, 1&1 will build Europe’s first fully virtualized mobile network based on the innovative OpenRAN technology. In doing so, 1&1 is setting new standards for the future of mobile communications in Germany and Europe – moving away from conventional proprietary networks, which are often provided overall by just a single network supplier, to a fully cloud-based vendor-independent network architecture.
Rakuten becomes Prime Contractor for 1&1 Mobile Network
Rakuten is a pioneer of OpenRAN technology. After several years of preparation and development work, Rakuten launched the world’s first commercial fully virtualized OpenRAN mobile network in April 2020 as a new entrant in Japan.
Specifically, Rakuten will handle the installation of the active network equipment and will also be responsible for the overall performance of the 1&1 mobile network. 1&1 will have access to the Rakuten Communications Platform (RCP) with its access, core, cloud and operational solutions, as well as Rakuten’s partner network. In this context, Rakuten will also provide its specially developed orchestration software so that the 1&1 network can be operated in a highly automated manner.
“With Rakuten, we have the world’s only OpenRAN expert on our side who really has extensive practical experience with this new technology. Rakuten ideally complements our expertise in telecommunications networks, data centers and cloud applications. Together we are building a high-performance mobile network that has extensive automation and agility to fully exploit the potential of 5G,” said Ralph Dommermuth, CEO of 1&1 AG.
“Through full virtualization and the use of standard hardware, we can flexibly combine the best products. This makes us a manufacturer-independent innovation driver in the German and European mobile market.”
“We are honored to be selected by 1&1 as a partner to build the first fully virtualized mobile network in Europe,” said Mickey Mikitani, CEO of Rakuten Group, Inc. “Like 1&1, we built our mobile network in Japan with a vision to transform the industry. Through technological innovation, we have been able to provide high-quality mobile services at a cost-effective price that challenge the market. We are delighted to now share this experience and expertise with 1&1 through the Rakuten Communications Platform, and together create a next-generation network that sets new standards for the future of mobile in Germany and Europe.”
1&1 Network Architecture Based on OpenRAN
Unlike traditional network architectures, the OpenRAN approach consistently separates software and hardware. By using commercially available computers, so-called “COTS (commercial off-the-shelf)” hardware, a wide variety of software and antenna manufacturers can be combined as desired. This makes 1&1 independent of dominant providers and gives it the flexibility to work with different manufacturers.
All network functions are in the cloud and controlled by software. Costly retrofits or maintenance at the base stations of the antennas are thus obsolete and can be carried out efficiently and cost-effectively through software updates.
Four central data centers are planned for the core network. Hundreds of decentralized data centers throughout Germany will be connected to these, which in turn will be linked to thousands of antenna sites via fiber optics. Data centers and fiber-optic lines will be provided by 1&1’s sister company 1&1 Versatel.
Construction of the 1&1 mobile communications network will start in the next quarter.