Japanese e-commerce giant Rakuten expects to deploy a total of 4,000 edge servers in Japan for the launch of its virtualized mobile network, the company’s chairman and CEO, Hiroshi Mikitani said in an interview with CNBC.
The executive said that Rakuten does not have to deploy brand new network infrastructure in the Asian country in order to launch commercial 5G services, which is expected to occur in June next year.
“We are going to deploy what we call mobile edge computing. In Japan, we are going to have over 4,000 edge servers,” Mikitani said.
The company plans to launch mobile services in Japan in October this year using 4G technology to compete with existing telcos NTT DoCoMo, KDDI and SoftBank.
Rakuten has previously said that its launch will rely on what it claims to be the world’s first end-to-end fully virtualized, cloud-native mobile network, which will allow the company to avoid deploying large amounts of hardware. The company highlighted that this virtualized network is cheaper to deploy and can be upgraded quickly.
“This is going to completely transform the network platform from hardware-dependent to software — which is much more flexible, much more scalable, much more economical, and will be able to provide the platform not only to Japan, but everywhere in the world,” Mikitani said.
The executive also said that 5G technology will then be added to the network by June 2020.
Rakuten Mobile Network has already received approval for its Special Base Station Deployment Plan by the Japanese government. The company previously said it aims to acquire at least 15 million subscribers in an initial phase of the mobile deployment.
In related news, Japanese carrier KDDI plans to launch 5G services via a non-standalone network next spring, KDDI’s executive director of corporate sector, Shinichi Muramoto told a conference call with investors.
The executive said that KDDI’s 4G service will be combined with 5G and will be implemented as a hybrid network and “on top of that, in July this year, in order to accelerate our effort to set up 5G networks, we agreed with SoftBank on working together to jointly promoting early development of 5G networks in local areas.
“Starting from autumn this year, we will engage in joined demonstrations in several areas and build robust networks at an early stage,” he said.
KDDI plans to launch a SA 5G network in Japan in the coming years, according to a company presentation.
In April, Japan’s government approved plans by the country’s four mobile carriers to build 5G wireless networks with investment set to reach JPY 1.6 trillion ($14.4 billion) over the next five years.
Applications submitted by NTT DoCoMo, KDDI, SoftBank and Rakuten were approved by the communications ministry after determining that the companies’ applications met the conditions of the allocation of 5G spectrum.
NTT DoCoMo is planning the largest spend, with a goal to invest at least JPY 795 billion in the deployment of 5G networks during this period. KDDI announced investments of JPY 466 billion, while SoftBank and Rakuten are targeting investments of JPY 206 billion and JPY 194 billion respectively.
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