Softbank launches 5G MEC in Japan using its 5G SA core network

SoftBank announced that it has deployed a 5G Multi-access Edge Computing (MEC) site in the Kanto region of Japan.  The multi-national conglomerate said it has started the nationwide deployment of MEC servers in Japan this month (May 2022).   SoftBank claims its 5G MEC delivers a low-latency and secure service experience by using its 5G SA core network with compute servers at the network’s edge.  The 5G MEC offering now makes it possible for customers to experience high-speed services through the deployment of applications close to user devices within the 5G SA network, which significantly reduces server access times.

SoftBank’s 5G MEC platform provides a Kubernetes-based container environment [1.] which is a de facto platform for application development. From physical infrastructure set-up to application deployment and distribution, 5G MEC sites are automated. Such features make applications on the 5G MEC platform more fault-tolerant, and they also enable faster service rollout with reduced complexity, improving a variety of industry services such as emergency notifications, in-building IoT-based network deployments, factory automation, multi-user network gaming and automated driving, among others.

Note 1.  Kubernetes is a portable, extensible, open source platform for managing containerized workloads and services, that facilitates both declarative configuration and automation.

“This deployment of 5G MEC is a major milestone for SoftBank. Its compatibility with SRv6 MUP and network slicing, along with its automation of operation features, make it unique across the industry. With our partners, we’ll develop a multi-industry ecosystem to become a complete digital platform provider by harnessing the capabilities of our 5G MEC solution,” said Keiichi Makizono, SoftBank Corp. Senior Vice President and Chief Information Officer (CIO).

Source: GSMA

Source: Softbank

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Comments from partners supporting Softbank’s 5G MEC are as follows:

“SoftBank is committed to enabling the digital transformation of companies and organizations across all sectors, and we are honored to have been selected as a cloud partner in this aim. We share with SoftBank a vision where modern applications must integrate seamlessly with cloud operations to create exceptional end user experiences. We look forward to further enabling SoftBank to execute on this vision, for their cloud native customers’ use cases in and beyond 5G,” said Ankur Singla, SVP, Security & Distributed Cloud Product Group, F5. [F5 is a strategic partner for SoftBank that has worked jointly on strategic initiatives including SRv6 and 5G MEC, commented on 5G MEC].

“Corezero is excited to join SoftBank’s 5G MEC initiative. Corezero enables Logging-as-a-Service. Our flagship product FFWD is a real-time observability system built using cutting edge software to achieve true Ingest-Query-Separation, and Compute-Storage-Separation: an architecture type that best serves the modern high-volume log flows and query profiles in highly distributed cloud environments. We are looking forward to working with SoftBank to provide Logging-as-a-Service (LaaS) starting from their 5G MEC enhanced with low-cost programmability,” said Yee Soon, CEO, Corezero.

“Niantic has been working with SoftBank on promotions for our AR/location-based game titles, as well as network optimization at our live events, etc. We believe that SoftBank’s nationwide deployment of 5G MEC will open up new possibilities not only for our game titles but also for developers and creators who use Niantic Lightship ARDK, which will lead to the creation of an innovative AR experience from Japan to the world in the future,” said Setsuto Murai, President, Niantic Japan.

“Vantiq is excited to be part of SoftBank’s 5G MEC program, which is bringing significant value to the communications industry. The combination of SoftBank’s Digital Platform, which provides the necessary edge-computing infrastructure, and Vantiq’s real-time distributed processing capabilities, will help drive market innovation and disruption through the creation of mission-critical, ultra low-latency business applications,” said Marty Sprinzen, CEO, Vantiq.

“We are very excited about the Kubernetes (k8) container technology-based SoftBank 5G MEC roll out. MIXI is actively utilizing the k8-based container platform for future microservice based application development. By utilizing 5G MEC distributed all over Japan with a high affinity with mobile networking, we aim for further innovation in the sports entertainment area along with other futuristic applications,” said Junpei Yoshino, Chief General Manager, Development Operations, mixi, Inc.

“Yahoo! JAPAN is proactively trying to adopt new technologies to provide safe, secure, and comfortable services to a wide range of customers. Therefore, we are paying close attention to the expansion of SoftBank 5G MEC, which will enhance the possibility of our services by providing CSP infrastructure closer to our customers’ mobile devices with higher network reliability, significantly reduced processing speed, and ease of deployment through container infrastructure. We also expect MEC sites distributed around the world to be a powerful advantage when we, the content service providers, expand our business all over the world. We have high expectations for SoftBank to lead this important platform,” said Masahiko Kokubo, Director, EVP, Managing Corporate Officer, CTO, Yahoo Japan Corporation.

“The JCV face recognition platform is widely adopted at thousands of retail shops and entertainment venues. To provide customers with highly accurate AR experiences using spatial image recognition at commercial facilities and stadiums Real-time computing processing using SoftBank’s upcoming 5G MEC will enable us to provide our customers with increased accuracy and ultra-low latency. We are confident that, with SoftBank 5G MEC, this will fuel the creation of a metaverse platform linking online and offline,” said Andrew Schwabecher, CEO of Japan Computer Vision Corp.

“We are very much excited about SoftBank’s 5G MEC deployment which will play a vital role in realizing distributed computing necessary for advanced digital society. Using SRv6 for networking will make SoftBank’s 5G MEC even more optimal and easy to deploy at remote locations. By utilizing our regional Internet eXchanges (IX), BBIX with its valued partners will deliver the optimal network platform for the Digital Twin [2.] era,” said Hidetoshi Ikeda, Representative Director, President & CEO, BBIX, Inc.

Note 2.  Digital twin is a technology that collects information in real space via IoT, etc. and reproduces real space in cyber space based on the transmitted data.
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Other Notes:
  • In October 2021, SoftBank announced that it had started to offer 5G Standalone (SA) network services. With this new launch, SoftBank claimed to be the first carrier in Japan to offer 5G SA commercial services.  At that time, the company said that the most important features of 5G SA networks are their ability to deliver network slicing and Private 5G networks, which are customized networks tailored to individual enterprise needs, and other connectivity features based on advanced technologies.
  • Softbank had initially launched commercial 5G services in Japan through NSA architecture in March 2020.
  • In April 2021, Softbank launched Japan’s first 5G global roaming service.
  • According to Statistica, Softbank had a 20.8% share (# 3) of Japan’s mobile subscribers in 2021.  NTT DoComo led with a 37% market share, while KDDI was in second place with a 27.2% market share.
  • Softbank’s history is here.

References:

https://www.softbank.jp/en/corp/news/press/sbkk/2022/20220526_01/

https://www.softbank.jp/en/corp/news/press/sbkk/2021/20211019_01/

https://www.softbank.jp/en/corp/aboutus/profile/history/

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