Rakuten’s 5G network will be built with containers

Rakuten this week commercially launched its new greenfield 4G network in Japan. But the operator is already working on transitioning its network to 5G. And it plans to use containers, rather than virtual machines, for its network functions virtualization (NFV) infrastructure as well as part of its radio access network (RAN). Some of the vendors it’s collaborating with for containers include Robin.io, Altiostar and Intel.

It’s working with the Silicon Valley startup Robin.io — a five-year-old company with about 60 employees — to build its NFV container-based infrastructure.

For its 4G network, Rakuten operates one horizontal cloud layer above its macro cell sites, edge data centers and central data centers. That cloud runs on Red Hat’s OpenStack (virtual machine) platform with contributions from Cisco.

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