Time isn’t on Rakuten Cell’s facet because it must garner extra subscribers and transfer towards profitability as the brand new cellular operator in Japan.

The corporate, which reported its third-quarter 2020 earnings yesterday, at the moment has acquired about 1.6 million functions for its service, which isn’t nice contemplating it’s providing its LTE cellular service totally free to the primary three million subscribers.

It’s acquired a steep hill to climb in Japan. NTT Docomo has greater than 75 million subs; KDDI has about 55 million subs and SoftBank has greater than 23 million subs.

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So as to speed up its community build-out, it’s doubling the speed of recent web site deployments from 750 websites per 30 days to 1,500 per 30 days.

Talking on a media roundtable after the corporate’s earnings presentation, Rakuten Cell’s CTO Tareq Amin stated, “On the deployment facet, we’ve excessive confidence in our skill to ship.” The corporate desires to maneuver individuals from its roaming associate, KDDI, onto its personal community as shortly as attainable.

“We felt for those who evaluate the price of roaming and the way a lot we pay for roaming, the acceleration of the construct plan by 5 years has a major return on funding to Rakuten,” Amin stated.

However he exhibited excessive confidence, stemming from some innovation at Rakuten Cell, which leads to the corporate requiring much less base stations than its rivals.

He stated some Japanese community operators have greater than 100,000 base stations. “Our construct plan revolves round 45,000 eNodeBs,” he stated. “In case you have a look at our base station and the way we architected this distant radio head and antenna, we’re one of many world’s first that took this concept to take away jumpers and connectors and mix passive and energetic parts, and also you mainly get rid of any of the losses that occur within the system.”

He stated this innovation ends in 30-40% higher protection per web site. As well as Rakuten Cell developed radio and antenna enhancements that enhance its protection footprint together with high-power amplifiers.

It’s attention-grabbing that Amin talked about combining passive and energetic parts in its base stations. This week, CommScope and Nokia introduced that that they had carried out one thing comparable for 5G New Radio

RELATED: CommScope, Nokia solve for antenna problem associated with 5G NR

Rakuten can be shifting from part 1 of its community deployment, which centered on putting in gear on rooftops in Tokyo. For Section 2, it’s putting in 15-20-meter-tall concrete poles. Amin stated this method is less expensive and sooner. He stated the corporate can construct a complete macro base station with a basis, building, turn-up and integration all in at some point. “About 65% of our part 2 community is now being deployed with this concrete-poles structure,” he stated.

Rakuten chart 1

Lastly, Rakuten Cell has been working with a bare-bones assortment of six server {hardware} sorts in its community. And for 5G, it’s paring that down additional to solely two kinds of {hardware}: the Rakuten World Providers (RGS) and RGSe, that are platforms designed by Rakuten to fulfill the use circumstances for all of the 5G workloads. “All the software program of telco is being hosted in two {hardware} sorts,” stated Amin, which additional simplifies infrastructure deployment.

Rakuten chart 2


Rakuten has additionally ignited a world-wide dialog about open radio entry community (RAN) gear. Amin stated the corporate’s improvements in radio are saving it cash as a result of sometimes radio spend is anyplace between 60-70% of the entire capex for a wi-fi operator. “For us, 60% of the financial savings comes from radio,” he stated. “It’s the one important space I imagine we would have liked to do extra as an trade. I used to be pleasantly shocked and joyful to see Vodafone say they need to decide to open RAN.” 

Working with NEC in Japan, Rakuten Cell has turned the seller pricing mannequin on its head. “The big distributors don’t essentially get pleasure from speaking to us as a result of we all know the precise price construction of all the pieces,” stated Amin. “It’s actually laborious to barter with us in the case of part, and pricing and product.”

It labored out a cope with NEC the place the seller tells Rakuten how a lot a radio will price, and Rakuten Cell pays it the margins it wants.

RELATED: Rakuten is building a 3.7 GHz massive MIMO 5G radio with NEC


Amin stated, “The one factor I lose sleep about is spectrum.” He stated at the back of his thoughts he’s at all times excited about spectrum administration and “how can we optimize our capability of spectrum in LTE by introducing neatly our 5G deployment?”

In LTE, Rakuten Cell has 20 MHz of downlink and 20 MHz of uplink. The construct plan it has in place delivers a wonderful buyer expertise inside this spectrum for as much as 10 million clients. “We’ve 100 MHz of spectrum in 5G — 3.7 — and 400 MHz of mmwave that we have to deploy, and that’s why we’re aggressively accelerating the 5G buildout, particularly focusing on the hotspot to areas to do that knowledge offload from LTE to 5G.”