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Japanese telco Rakuten Mobile bets big on India with services, equipment

Rakuten Mobile appears to be making a much bigger bet on India in the field of IT services and telecom hardware for both its telecom network in Japan and Rakuten Communications Platform (RCP).

Rakuten’s chief technology officer Tareq Amin said that the company wants to make India a “hub for engineering” and it will be working towards growing enabling the IT and telecom ecosystems.

“If it grows, then I have another supply chain that I can go to and we feel comfortable about,” Amin was quoted as saying by the Economic Times. “I am personally motivated quite a bit to make India a hub for a lot of the engineering we do.”

The senior executive told the publication that it is going to enter into big partnerships with Indian IT companies and system integrators for its RCP.

The company is already working with IT services company Tech Mahindra and telecom equipment maker Sterlite Technologies Limited in India. While Tech Mahindra is helping Rakuten with its RCP, Sterlite is providing it with Wi-Fi 6 hardware.

“We have a great story in the making of collaboration between Rakuten and the right Indian partners that are really willing and one team to embrace and build indigenous technology in India and create a win-win model for us as Rakuten then and for future business partners in India,” he told the publication.

Rakuten is currently exploring different business models with a few large system integrators in India for its RCP.

Rakuten has previously joined hands with Tech Mahindra to set up 4G and 5G  software-defined network laboratories in Tokyo and Bengaluru. The Japanese company already has its offices in India for engineering.

“We have huge investments that we’re doing in India, we have very large offices in India, we continue to grow there,” Amin said, adding that Rakuten’s portfolio company Altiostar also has its engineering team in Bangalore, India.

Both Rakuten and Tech Mahindra have stakes in Altiostar.

Amin also believes 5G technology would allow Rakuten to collaborate with Reliance Jio, which is also developing its own 5G products and solutions. “I always believe competition is a very healthy thing for everybody. But I also believe collaboration is very much possible,” he added.

RCP, as per the company, combines the technology blueprint and expert playbook of its work to date in building its cloud-native mobile network. Through the platform, Rakuten Mobile is selling the components of the network and deployment know-how to governments and operators through an “app store”.

RCP is a fundamental big departure from the traditional way of managing and engineering telecommunication networks, Amin said.

He reiterated that Rakuten Mobile isn’t a system integrator for telecom operators when it offers RCP to them for network transformation.  “What AWS did for the IT industry, we would love to do for the telco industry. My approach has been not just to go and incubate technologies by ourselves and create a black box but to work with partners as well,” he was quoted as saying. Disruptive Asia

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