Rakuten Mobile has launched commercial services using the “platinum band” 700 MHz spectrum. Using the expertise gained by building its nationwide fully virtualised, cloud-native Open RAN network in the 1.7 GHz band, Rakuten Mobile has said it has been able to swiftly roll out commercial services in the 700 MHz band. Going forward, the operator will continue expanding platinum band services, starting with remaining coverage gaps.

In addition to deploying 700 MHz base stations, Rakuten Mobile will expand its 5G midband network coverage in the Kanto region up to 60% compared to January 2024 by year’s end, as measures preventing interference between mobile and satellite communications in shared bandwidth have been relaxed. Furthermore, the company is significantly improving its 5G network speed and stability through software upgrades for its nationwide network of 5G midband base stations, and expects to enable smoother transitioning between 4G and 5G through the optimisation of base station parameters.

Tokyo interference boost

Rakuten Mobile said it has increased its 5G midband base station traffic capacity approximately 130 percent per network cell, increased the number of unique 5G users by approximately 50 percent and doubled its average network speed in Tokyo, compared with its previous results for the region, by taking measures to increase the capacity of its 5G midband base stations.

The network performance improvement is partly due to the easing of measures preventing interference between mobile wireless networks and satellite communications in shared bandwidth frequencies. Rakuten Mobile is now able to increase the radio transmission output power of its existing 5G base stations across the Kanto region and aims to gradually expand its 5G network coverage area across the region by up to 60 percent by the end of 2024, compared to January 2024.

Rakuten Mobile has deployed 17,210 5G outdoor base stations as of the end of May 2024. The company has succeeded in extending beamforming in massive MIMO by upgrading the software for Rakuten Symphony’s Distributed Unit (DU) and Centralised Unit (CU) wireless access devices used in its 5G base stations. The DUs and CUs developed by Rakuten Symphony are fully compatible with virtualisation, allowing for quick upgrades to the base station software running on the virtualised platform.

The operator is also rolling out improvement measures across the Nagoya and Osaka regions. In the Nagoya region, 5G traffic capacity has grown approximately 30 percent and the number of users by roughly 10 percent, while in the Osaka region, 5G traffic capacity has grown approximately 70 percent, the number of users by roughly 40 percent – and the average network speed has increased approximately 60 percent. 

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