Rakuten Mobile, Inc. and NEC to jointly develop the containerized standalone (SA) 5G core network + Dell’Oro report

Japanese upstart carrier Rakuten Mobile, Inc. and NEC Corporation today announced that they have reached an agreement to jointly develop the containerized standalone (SA) 5G core network (5GC) to be utilized in Rakuten Mobile’s fully virtualized cloud native 5G network.

Based on the agreement, Rakuten Mobile and NEC will jointly develop the containerized SA 5G mobile core to be made available on the Rakuten Communications Platform (RCP), Rakuten Mobile’s fully virtualized and containerized cloud-native mobile network platform. The two companies will collaborate to build a Japan-made, highly reliable 5GC, based on the 5GC software source code developed by NEC. Subsequent to the launch of its non-standalone (NSA) 5G service in 2020, Rakuten Mobile aims to provide its SA 5G service in Japan in 2021.

The containerized 5GC will also play a key role in the global expansion of RCP, a platform aimed at offering solutions and services for the deployment of virtualized networks at speed and low cost by telecom companies and enterprises around the world, tailored for their unique needs. The 5GC will be offered as an application on the RCP Marketplace, allowing customers to quickly and easily “click, purchase and deploy” a fully virtualized SA 5G core network solution.

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Editor’s Note:  The two companies don’t state what spec they’re using for their container based SA 5G Core Network.   Please see Tareq Amin’s Comment below.

The only standards work we know of related to SA 5G Core Network is in 3GPP (5GCN), but it’s based on a NFV enabled network cloud and a service based architecturerather than containers.

We suggest that NEC contribute this spec to both 3GPP and ITU-T (for IMT 2020 non-radio aspects).  However, neither ITU-R or ITU-T has any serious ongoing work related to the 5G Core Network at this point in time.

The 3GPP specified 5G core network covers both wire-line and wireless access.  Key characteristics:

 Control plane is separated from the data plane and implemented in a virtualized environment
 Fully distributed network architecture with single level of hierarchy

 GW to GW interface to support seamless mobility between 5G-GW
 Traffic of the same flow can be delivered over multiple RITs

From the latest 3GPP Release 16 – TS.23501 5G Systems Architecture-V16.4.0 (2020-03):

The 5G System architecture is defined to support data connectivity and services enabling deployments to use techniques such as e.g. Network Function Virtualization and Software Defined Networking. The 5G System architecture shall leverage service-based interactions between Control Plane (CP) Network Functions where identified. Some key principles and concept are to:

– Separate the User Plane (UP) functions from the Control Plane (CP) functions, allowing independent scalability, evolution and flexible deployments e.g. centralized location or distributed (remote) location.

– Modularize the function design, e.g. to enable flexible and efficient network slicing.

– Wherever applicable, define procedures (i.e. the set of interactions between network functions) as services, so that their re-use is possible.

– Enable each Network Function and its Network Function Services to interact with other NF and its Network Function Services directly or indirectly via a Service Communication Proxy if required. The architecture does not preclude the use of another intermediate function to help route Control Plane messages (e.g. like a DRA).

– Minimize dependencies between the Access Network (AN) and the Core Network (CN). The architecture is defined with a converged core network with a common AN – CN interface which integrates different Access Types e.g. 3GPP access and non-3GPP access.

– Support a unified authentication framework.

– Support “stateless” NFs, where the “compute” resource is decoupled from the “storage” resource.

– Support capability exposure.

– Support concurrent access to local and centralized services. To support low latency services and access to local data networks, UP functions can be deployed close to the Access Network.

ITU-T SG13 is working on IMT 2020 non-radio aspects, but are heavily dependent on 3GPP documents to be liased inorder to drive their future standards work in that area.

Please see Comment in box underneath this article for GSMA Feb 2020 document on SA 5G Core option 2 guidelines for implementation.

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“We are very excited to collaborate with NEC on the development of our standalone 5G core network,” commented Tareq Amin, Representative Director, Executive Vice President and CTO of Rakuten Mobile. “Our partnership with NEC represents a joint collaboration to build an open, secure and highly scalable 4G and 5G cloud native converged core, that will also become a key feature of the highly competitive services we will offer to global customers through the Rakuten Communications Platform.”

“NEC is proud to be the 5GC development partner for Rakuten Mobile’s advanced, fully virtualized, cloud-native network. Following the BSS/OSS for the 4G network and 5G radio equipment that we have already begun offering, we look forward to providing a high-quality, highly reliable 5GC and contributing to Rakuten Mobile’s 5G services,” said Atsuo Kawamura, Executive Vice President and President of the Network Services Business Unit, NEC.

Through the joint development of the SA 5GC, Rakuten Mobile and NEC aim to drive innovation in global mobile technology and provide high quality 5G network technology to customers both in Japan and around the world.

Rakuten Mobile CTO Tareq Amin clarification comments; via edited email to this author:

NEC/Rakuten 5GC is 3GPP standardized software for network service and a de facto standard container basis infrastructure (infrastructure agnostic).  It is a forward looking approach, but not proprietary.

1.  3GPP standardized software for network service:

NEC/Rakuten 5GC openness are realized by implementation of Open Interface defined in 3GPP specifications  (TS 23.501, 502, 503 and related stage 3 specifications).

2.   Containerization/Cloud native:

3GPP 5GC specification requires cloud native architecture as the general concept.  It should be distributed, stateless, and scalable.  However, an explicit reference model is out of scope for the 3GPP specification. Therefore NEC 5GC cloud native architecture is based on above mentioned 3GPP concept as well as ETSI NFV treats container and cloud native, which NEC is also actively investigating to apply its product.

3.  Reference To Open RAN in the press release:

This has no relationship to 5G Core, but only an indication that our Radio Access Network (RAN) architecture is O-RAN Compliant.

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Press Release:

https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20200602005999/en/Rakuten-Mobile-NEC-Agree-Jointly-Develop-Containerized

About Rakuten Mobile

Rakuten Mobile, Inc. is a Rakuten Group company responsible for mobile communications, including mobile network operator (MNO) and mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) businesses, as well as ICT and energy. Through continuous innovation and the deployment of advanced technology, Rakuten Mobile aims to redefine expectations in the mobile communications industry in order to provide appealing and convenient services that respond to diverse customer needs.

About NEC Corporation

NEC Corporation has established itself as a leader in the integration of IT and network technologies while promoting the brand statement of “Orchestrating a brighter world.” NEC enables businesses and communities to adapt to rapid changes taking place in both society and the market as it provides for the social values of safety, security, fairness and efficiency to promote a more sustainable world where everyone has the chance to reach their full potential. For more information, visit NEC at http://www.nec.com.

Contacts:

Rakuten, Inc.
Corporate Communications Department
global-pr@mail.rakuten.com

NEC Corporation
Corporate Communications Division
press@news.jp.nec.com

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Addendum from Dell’Oro Group:

Mobile Core Network Growth to Accelerate with 5G Core Deployments

The Mobile Core Network market grew 10 percent year-over-year to nearly $8 Billion for the trailing four quarters ending in 1Q20. Growth is expected to accelerate over the next four quarters due to 5G Core deployments.

“There are other factors influencing the uptake. The COVID-19 pandemic is now seen mostly as a positive for the wireless infrastructure sector with more demand for voice and data. Plus the T-Mobile/Sprint merger has completed, and the new T-Mobile is moving ahead with an aggressive 5G build,” Bolan continued.

Additional highlights from the Mobile Core Network 1Q20 report:

  • Revenue market share for Huawei and Ericsson combined for over half of the market, while Nokia, ZTE, and Cisco totaled over 25 percent, for the trailing four quarters ending in 1Q2020.
  • We forecast the Network Function Virtualization penetration (vs Containers) will approach 70 percent in 1Q2021 due to the revenue growth in 5G Core deployments.

About the Report

The Dell’Oro Group Mobile Core Network Quarterly Report offers complete, in-depth coverage of the market with tables covering manufacturers’ revenue, shipments, and average selling prices for Evolved Packet Core, 5G Core, IMS Core, Policy, Subscriber Management, licenses by Non-NFV and NFV, and by geographic regions.  To purchase this report, please contact us at dgsales@delloro.com.

About Dell’Oro Group

Dell’Oro Group is a market research firm that specializes in strategic competitive analysis in the telecommunications, networks, and data center IT markets.  Our firm provides in-depth quantitative data and qualitative analysis to facilitate critical, fact-based business decisions.  For more information, contact Dell’Oro Group at +1.650.622.9400 or visit www.delloro.com.

Top Optical Network Equipment Vendors: Data Center Interconnect & Overall Market

Executive Summary:

Market research firms Dell’Oro and Heavy Reading disagree on who are the top optical network equipment vendors, especially for data center interconnect (DCI).  Obviously, the mega cloud computing/Internet service providers (Google, Amazon, Baidu, Facebook, etc) together account for the overwhelming market for DCI equipment purchased.  None of them disclose who their DWDM vendors are.  It’s well known that most of those mega cloud/Internet players design their own IT equipment (e.g. compute servers, Ethernet switches, Routers, etc), but they don’t design or build DWDM transport gear.

Dell’Oro Group DCI Market Analysis:

Ciena, Cisco and Infinera together command 85% of the disaggregated wavelength-division multiplexing field for DCI optical network equipment market segment, Dell’Oro Group estimates.

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–>This is a big surprise to this author as neither Nokia (via Alcatel-Lucent), Huawei (#1 overall optical network vendor) or ZTE are top tier according to Dell’Oro.  See two graphs below (“Other Voices” section), courtesy of Heavy Reading and IHS-Markit.

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Dell’Oro Group estimated that disaggregated WDM systems reached an annualized revenue run rate of $400 million, growing 225% year-over-year. This is partly because these systems are finding utility in the booming DCI market segment.

Jimmy Yu, VP at Dell’Oro Group, said that while the disaggregation concept is not new, service provider adoption in the data center segment is.

“In most—if not all—purchases, we found that these new systems were being employed in DCI across both metro and long haul spans,” Yu said in a press release. “So far, the largest consumers have been internet content providers that appreciate the platform for its simplicity, capacity, and power savings.”

Yu added that “based on second quarter results, where disaggregated WDM systems represented nearly one-third of the optical DCI equipment purchases made, we have to say that Disaggregated WDM systems are truly hitting the sweet spot for DCI.”

As wireline operators look to diversify their revenue mix, the DCI market has a compelling growth path driven by the consumption and distribution of various data forms over the public internet and private networks.

Outside of DCI, the overall WDM market, which consists of WDM Metro and DWDM Long Haul, grew only 2% year-over-year in the second quarter, says Dell’Oro. The research firm noted that growth was driven by strength in the Asia Pacific region, especially China and India.

The share of 100G WDM wavelength shipments going to DCI was 14% in the quarter, according to Dell’Oro.

About the Report:

The Dell’Oro Group Optical Transport Quarterly Report offers complete, in-depth coverage of the market with tables covering manufacturers’ revenue, average selling prices, unit shipments (by speed including 40 Gbps, 100 Gbps, and >100 Gbps).  The report tracks DWDM long haul terrestrial, WDM metro, multiservice multiplexers (SONET/SDH), optical switch, optical packet platforms, and data center interconnect (metro and long haul).  To purchase this report, call Matt Dear at +1.650.622.9400 x223 or email Matt@DellOro.com.

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Other Voices on Optical Network Equipment Market:

1.  Cignal AI:

Huawei and ZTE saw record shipments of 100-Gbps coherent ports in China during the second quarter of 2017 as well as strong sales in general throughout the region, reports Cignal AI. So what accounts for sour grapes from optical component houses? Inventory corrections at Chinese systems vendors, particularly Huawei, according to the market research firm.

“Demand for optical hardware in China is not slowing down, and equipment vendors are universally providing positive guidance for North America during the second half of the year,” said Andrew Schmitt, lead analyst for Cignal AI. “Operators around the world are shifting spending from long-haul to metro WDM, though this shift is materializing into gains for only a few vendors.”

Optical revenue in China is up 13 percent for the first half of 2017 as compared to the same period in 2016. The weak demand reported by component makers is a result of an ongoing inventory correction (primarily at Huawei), rather than a signal of weak end market demand.

2. IHS-Markit:

Huawei ranked first overall in combined market presence and market leadership in the recent Optical Network Hardware Vendor Scorecard released by IHS Markit.  Huawei received this assessment for its comprehensive performance on multiple benchmarks including reputation for innovation, market share momentum, and global market share.

There are over a dozen vendors around the globe that make and sell optical network equipment. The 10 vendors profiled in this Scorecard–ADVA, Ciena, Cisco, Coriant, ECI, Fujitsu, Huawei, Infinera, Nokia, and ZTE–were selected because they are the top revenue producers of optical hardware.

The Scorecard used concrete data and metrics, including market share, financials and direct feedback from buyers on innovation, product reliability, service and support to evaluate 2016 market performance and future momentum of the top 10 optical network equipment vendors.

IHS Markit optical network hardware vendor scorecard (Source: IHS Markit Optical Network Hardware Vendor Scorecard)

3.  Heavy Reading:

Market share estimates are based on DCI revenue contribution by Heavy Reading’s definition (not disclosed in the teaser briefing). Most vendors do not currently break out from their broader metro WDM revenue the portion accounted for by metro DCI deployments. A few companies did provide Heavy Reading with some general guidance on their revenue from metro DCI. The pie chart figure below shows Heavy Reading’s metro DCI equipment vendor share estimates for 2016.

Note that Adva has the top vendor market share and Cisco is not represented in the figure.

Excerpt

Source:  Heavy Reading

 

References:

http://www.delloro.com/news/disaggregated-wdm-systems-hitting-sweet-spot-data-center-interconnect-according-delloro-group

http://www.fiercetelecom.com/telecom/cisco-ciena-and-infinera-take-dominant-spots-data-center-interconnect-optical-segment-says

https://cignal.ai/2017/08/2q17-optical-hardware-results/

http://www.huawei.com/en/news/2017/8/Huawei-Optical-Network-IHS-Leader

http://www.heavyreading.com/details.asp?sku_id=3503&skuitem_itemid=1728

 

Top Optical Network Equipment Vendors: Data Center Interconnect & Overall Market

Executive Summary:

Market research firms Dell’Oro and Heavy Reading disagree on who are the top optical network equipment vendors, especially for data center interconnect (DCI).  Obviously, the mega cloud computing/Internet service providers (Google, Amazon, Baidu, Facebook, etc) together account for the overwhelming market for DCI equipment purchased.  None of them disclose who their DWDM vendors are.  It’s well known that most of those mega cloud/Internet players design their own IT equipment (e.g. compute servers, Ethernet switches, Routers, etc), but they don’t design or build DWDM transport gear.

Dell’Oro Group DCI Market Analysis:

Ciena, Cisco and Infinera together command 85% of the disaggregated wavelength-division multiplexing field for DCI optical network equipment market segment, Dell’Oro Group estimates.

……………………………………………………………………………………………………..

–>This is a big surprise to this author as neither Nokia (via Alcatel-Lucent), Huawei (#1 overall optical network vendor) or ZTE are top tier according to Dell’Oro.  See two graphs below (“Other Voices” section), courtesy of Heavy Reading and IHS-Markit.

……………………………………………………………………………………………………..

Dell’Oro Group estimated that disaggregated WDM systems reached an annualized revenue run rate of $400 million, growing 225% year-over-year. This is partly because these systems are finding utility in the booming DCI market segment.

Jimmy Yu, VP at Dell’Oro Group, said that while the disaggregation concept is not new, service provider adoption in the data center segment is.

“In most—if not all—purchases, we found that these new systems were being employed in DCI across both metro and long haul spans,” Yu said in a press release. “So far, the largest consumers have been internet content providers that appreciate the platform for its simplicity, capacity, and power savings.”

Yu added that “based on second quarter results, where disaggregated WDM systems represented nearly one-third of the optical DCI equipment purchases made, we have to say that Disaggregated WDM systems are truly hitting the sweet spot for DCI.”

As wireline operators look to diversify their revenue mix, the DCI market has a compelling growth path driven by the consumption and distribution of various data forms over the public internet and private networks.

Outside of DCI, the overall WDM market, which consists of WDM Metro and DWDM Long Haul, grew only 2% year-over-year in the second quarter, says Dell’Oro. The research firm noted that growth was driven by strength in the Asia Pacific region, especially China and India.

The share of 100G WDM wavelength shipments going to DCI was 14% in the quarter, according to Dell’Oro.

About the Report:

The Dell’Oro Group Optical Transport Quarterly Report offers complete, in-depth coverage of the market with tables covering manufacturers’ revenue, average selling prices, unit shipments (by speed including 40 Gbps, 100 Gbps, and >100 Gbps).  The report tracks DWDM long haul terrestrial, WDM metro, multiservice multiplexers (SONET/SDH), optical switch, optical packet platforms, and data center interconnect (metro and long haul).  To purchase this report, call Matt Dear at +1.650.622.9400 x223 or email Matt@DellOro.com.

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Other Voices on Optical Network Equipment Market:

1.  Cignal AI:

Huawei and ZTE saw record shipments of 100-Gbps coherent ports in China during the second quarter of 2017 as well as strong sales in general throughout the region, reports Cignal AI. So what accounts for sour grapes from optical component houses? Inventory corrections at Chinese systems vendors, particularly Huawei, according to the market research firm.

“Demand for optical hardware in China is not slowing down, and equipment vendors are universally providing positive guidance for North America during the second half of the year,” said Andrew Schmitt, lead analyst for Cignal AI. “Operators around the world are shifting spending from long-haul to metro WDM, though this shift is materializing into gains for only a few vendors.”

Optical revenue in China is up 13 percent for the first half of 2017 as compared to the same period in 2016. The weak demand reported by component makers is a result of an ongoing inventory correction (primarily at Huawei), rather than a signal of weak end market demand.

2. IHS-Markit:

Huawei ranked first overall in combined market presence and market leadership in the recent Optical Network Hardware Vendor Scorecard released by IHS Markit.  Huawei received this assessment for its comprehensive performance on multiple benchmarks including reputation for innovation, market share momentum, and global market share.

There are over a dozen vendors around the globe that make and sell optical network equipment. The 10 vendors profiled in this Scorecard–ADVA, Ciena, Cisco, Coriant, ECI, Fujitsu, Huawei, Infinera, Nokia, and ZTE–were selected because they are the top revenue producers of optical hardware.

The Scorecard used concrete data and metrics, including market share, financials and direct feedback from buyers on innovation, product reliability, service and support to evaluate 2016 market performance and future momentum of the top 10 optical network equipment vendors.

IHS Markit optical network hardware vendor scorecard (Source: IHS Markit Optical Network Hardware Vendor Scorecard)

3.  Heavy Reading:

Market share estimates are based on DCI revenue contribution by Heavy Reading’s definition (not disclosed in the teaser briefing). Most vendors do not currently break out from their broader metro WDM revenue the portion accounted for by metro DCI deployments. A few companies did provide Heavy Reading with some general guidance on their revenue from metro DCI. The pie chart figure below shows Heavy Reading’s metro DCI equipment vendor share estimates for 2016.

Note that Adva has the top vendor market share and Cisco is not represented in the figure.

Excerpt

Source:  Heavy Reading

 

References:

http://www.delloro.com/news/disaggregated-wdm-systems-hitting-sweet-spot-data-center-interconnect-according-delloro-group

http://www.fiercetelecom.com/telecom/cisco-ciena-and-infinera-take-dominant-spots-data-center-interconnect-optical-segment-says

https://cignal.ai/2017/08/2q17-optical-hardware-results/

http://www.huawei.com/en/news/2017/8/Huawei-Optical-Network-IHS-Leader

http://www.heavyreading.com/details.asp?sku_id=3503&skuitem_itemid=1728