Qualcomm, Rakuten Symphony Partner On Massive MIMO For Open RAN


By Sean Kinney, Editor in Chief

Qualcomm and Rakuten Symphony are confident that they’ll crack the code for Open RAN compatible 64T/64R massive MIMO radios that can rival integrated solutions from a performance standpoint, and beat integrated solutions on price. In a partnership announced recently, the duo will work on massive MIMO radio units (RUs) and distributed units (DUs) built on Qualcomm silicon. The goal is to first deploy the new tech in Rakuten Mobile’s network in Japan and then sell them as part of Rakuten Symphony’s Symware portfolio.

Rakuten Symphony’s vice president of RAN Product Platform, Sushil Rawat said in a briefing with media and analysts that the goal is improve capacity and performance of 5G on x86 platforms and develop a reference design that’s “pretty much ready for manufacturing.” Rakuten Symphony will “have our own branded product…but the design will be open for anyone to use. There will be certain agreements and engagement models but the design will available for anybody to use.”

Looking ahead at a potential timeline, Rawat said sampling would start in the middle of this year, followed by general availability around Q2 of 2023 with finished product available toward the end of next year.

Specific to Qualcomm’s RAN Platform, the company is putting up for the DU its X100 5G RAN Accelerator Card, which offloads Layer 1 processing from a baseband CPU onto the inline accelerator card, and the QRU100 5G RAN Platform for the massive MIMO radio.

Rakuten Mobile is the “king of Open RAN,” Qualcomm’s Gerardo Giaretti, senior director of product management for 5G RAN Platforms, said. “Being selected to cooperate with them is a great honor but also a testament to the technology we are developing. The idea is…to use our platform that we are developing so that we can have massive MIMO solution on both the RU and DU that are Open RAN-compliant and able to compete on performance and cost.”

Last week Qualcomm announced it’s working with HPE to combine the X100 5G RAN Accelerator Card with an HPE telco-optimized server. The two companies said this equipment configuration can lower 5G RAN TCO by 60 per cent.

Rakuten Symphony, meanwhile, has announced its Symware hardware programme and Symworld modular software marketplace. The goal is to sell products to customers like 1&1 in Germany which has engaged Rakuten Symphony to build a nationwide, greenfield network.

Qualcomm’s 5G RAN platform, initially launched in 2018, is being used by numerous infrastructure providers, including Airspan, Altiostar, Baicells, Corning, Radisys, Rakuten, Samsung, Sercomm and now, Japanese powerhouses Fujitsu and NEC.

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