NTT DoCoMo aims for an 5G O-RAN ecosystem with 12 partners

Japanese operator NTT DoCoMo agreed to cooperate with 12 companies to move toward a “5G Open RAN Ecosystem,” with the objective to globally accelerate open radio access networks (O-RAN).

The firms that will cooperate with the Japanese telco are Dell Technologies Japan, Fujitsu Limited, Intel K.K., Mavenir, NEC Corporation, NTT DATA Corporation, NVIDIA, Qualcomm Technologies, Red Hat, VMware K.K., Wind River and Xilinx.

O-RAN Alliance, of which NTTDoCoMo is a founding member, has developed specifications and promoted products that allow operators to more freely combine disaggregated base station equipment.

NTT DoCoMo will start discussions with the 12 companies on accelerating Open RAN introduction to operators. Specifically, NTT DoCoMo’s target is to package best-of-breed RAN and to introduce, operate and manage them based on demands from operators considering Open RAN introduction.

In 2018, NTT DoCoMo, together with AT&T, China Mobile, Deutsche Telekom and Orange had announced the creation of the ORAN Alliance, with the aim of driving new levels of openness in the radio access network of next generation wireless systems.

At the time of the launch, the members of the alliance noted that as mobile traffic increases, mobile networks and the equipment that runs them must become more energy efficient, software-driven, virtualized, flexible, and intelligent. The ORAN Alliance had said that it is committed to evolving radio access networks  making them more open and smarter than previous generations.

Other Japanese companies are also invoiced in O-RAN initiatives.

In November 2020, Japanese operator Rakuten Mobile, a subsidiary of e-commerce giant Rakuten, announced it has joined the O-RAN Alliance.

Rakuten Mobile has built what it claims to be the world’s first end-to-end fully-virtualized, cloud-native mobile network. Rakuten Mobile’s network utilizes a multi-vendor approach incorporating virtualization technologies. The architecture also makes it possible to transition to an O-RAN standard-compliant RAN mainly through a software upgrade.

In December 2020, NEC Corporation announced the establishment of an Open RAN laboratory in India as a complement to its Center of Excellence (CoE) in the U.K.

The Japanese company said that the new facility will accelerate development of NEC’s 5G open ecosystem by pre-integrating partner Open RAN components to form end-to-end commercial-ready solutions according to customer-specific needs.

NEC also said that the solutions will undergo end-to-end “practical validations” on functional/operational performance and quality assurance throughout all layers of the RAN, from network and cloud to service layers.

The new lab in India will also be responsible for post-deployment trouble-shooting, life cycle management and continuous integration (CI) and continuous delivery (CD) of solutions.

Initial partners include Altiostar, GigaTera and MTI, as NEC plans to expand its ecosystem with a broader group of partners to accelerate operators’ commercial adoption of Open RAN.

NEC’s CoE in the U.K. is responsible for business and solution development, product development support, project execution and technical support for NEC’s global Open RAN business.

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