NTT Docomo deploys energy-efficient multi-supplier Open RAN 5G network

Leading Japanese operator and mobile technology pioneer deploys high-performance Open RAN-compliant portfolio in commercial multi-supplier network based on energy-efficient technology to support sustainability objectives

Throughout the history of mobile communications, Japanese operator NTT Docomo has had a reputation for introducing innovation products and services, and in its latest move, the company is deploying 5G AirScale technology from Nokia in its commercial network.

Nokia has a long history of partnering with Docomo as the RAN provider for its 3G network, as well as helping the operator establish a multi-supplier 4G strategy. Both companies said they are now taking their strategic collaboration and partnership to the next level with the deployment of the O-RAN-compliant 5G network.

Docomo said it’s committed to supporting global telecom operators in their adoption of Open RAN to make it a commercial reality. Both firms are long-term supporters of open networks, and have invested heavily to advance the goals of the O-RAN alliance to build open, interoperable and responsive networks that they said fulfil the requirements of enterprise demand in the 5G era.

The fully Open RAN-compliant 5G AirScale baseband service includes centralised unit (CU) and distributed unit (DU) software that also enables Docomo to pursue a multi-supplier strategy, providing the option to connect with Open Radio Units (RU) delivered by other suppliers. Powered by ReefShark System-on-Chip technology, it’s also designed to deliver energy-efficient benefits and help Docomo drive significant sustainability benefits, as well as a lower total cost of ownership and operational cost savings due to its small footprint and low power consumption.

Nokia said its partnership with Docomo is a perfect example of the anyRAN approach, which aims to build future-ready radio access networks together with an ecosystem of industry partners to unlock collaborative advantage. Nokia anyRAN is designed to give mobile operators and enterprises more flexibility in building networks that combine a purpose-built, hybrid and Cloud RAN environment with common software. 

For Open RAN, Nokia develops the required Open Fronthaul features on top of its high-performance RAN software, ensuring coexistence and feature performance parity with purpose-built RAN.

“Nokia’s O-RAN-compatible AirScale 5G Baseband solution is extremely competitive and is capable of being connected to any O-RUs on NTT Docomo’s 5G commercial network,” said Masafumi Masuda, general manager of the radio access network technology promotion office at NTT Docomo. “Its high-performance and low-power consumption will also reduce our operational costs and support our sustainability goals. We are excited to continue this journey with Nokia, who have been with us every step of the way as we move towards more open networks.”

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Mark Atkinson, head of RAN at Nokia, added: “Nokia is fully committed to Open RAN, and is helping its customers fulfil their Open RAN objectives. We have taken steps to ensure that our industry-leading radio access portfolio can seamlessly integrate and interoperate with products from other suppliers.

“Together with our ecosystem of partners, we are providing more choice and higher performance in Open RAN solutions to our customers than they will see from other RAN suppliers,” he said. “We are excited to continue this journey with our long-term partner, NTT Docomo, and help them achieve their objective of delivering open networks.”

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