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Rakuten Symphony and NEC XON to drive OpenRAN adoption across Africa

Global telecommunications services provider Rakuten Symphony is collaborating with NEC XON as systems integrator partner for Africa, effectively applying another layer of responsibility to the companies’ existing global partnership.

Rakuten launched full-scale commercial services on its virtualised cloud-native OpenRAN (open radio access networks) mobile network in Japan in 2020.

In May 2021 Rakuten Mobile signed an agreement with NEC Corporation to promote OpenRAN in international mobile telecommunications markets.

The companies stated that as 5G services expand and diversify, they will promote OpenRAN standards “in order to further boost network scalability and the operational efficiency made possible by virtualisation.”

Rakuten launched Rakuten Symphony to roll out 4G and 5G infrastructure and platform solutions as well as spearhead global adoption of cloud-native OpenRAN infrastructure and services.

Rakuten Symphony is now collaborating with NEC XON to service customers across Africa.

Rabih Dabboussi, Chief Business Officer at Rakuten Symphony, said, “We're thrilled to team up with NEC XON in South Africa to empower greenfield and brownfield telco operators, enterprises and governments across Africa to easily build and deploy quality 5G OpenRAN cloud-native network services at speed and low cost, generate new revenue streams, and offer customers innovative and immersive experiences.”

Speaking at the NEC XON 5G OpenRAN event hosted recently in Johannesburg, Karim Chaari, Sales Director, MEA at Rakuten Symphony, said the elevated alliance with NEC XON is recognition of the system integrator’s expertise and market experience. “We believe that teaming up with NEC XON will allow us to expand in the region and help MNOs and service providers to move to a new generation of mobile networks which is based on 4G and 5G OpenRAN technology.”

NEC XON is exited to bring to the continent a global partnership shaped in Japan to increase the adoption of OpenRAN 5G infrastructure across Africa. The SI is aware that this requires a tailored approach.

Head of Wireless Networking, Willem Wentzel said recently that it is important to present 5G technology as commercial proposition and to consider the business case in context.

He said that mature network operators and service providers in the greater African context have indicated that 5G is the goal, but not within two years.

“It is crucial to understand that 5G adoption is a commercial proposition. While there are many use cases, and many of them for noble cases such as advanced healthcare, and many use cases that would be beneficial in Africa, it is always important to consider the business case in context.”

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