Redefining the way the world connects
Accenture helps Rakuten Mobile build the world’s first fully virtualized cloud-native telecommunications network.
Rakuten offers services in e-commerce, fintech, digital content and communications to approximately 1.4 billion members worldwide, with operations in 30 countries and regions.
The telecoms industry has long been challenged to innovate at speed and scale. Industry disruption and convergence confront operators with the need to find a new approach to meet growing consumer expectations and modern enterprises’ demands for agility and innovation. The explosion of connected devices and data that the move to 5G generates also requires a completely different mode of operation. It’s the difference between servicing a customer base of 20 or 30 million users to a network supporting 500 million devices or more.
Rakuten Mobile understood these industry headwinds and wanted to find a new way to sail through them by building a world-first1: a fully virtualized, cloud-native mobile network that creates a whole new vocabulary for communications networks – and the industry.
"People say that our advantage is that we are a greenfield operator, but I believe it is our people and work culture. We are not a telecommunications company – we are an IT company with highly skilled IT engineers, and that is a huge advantage."
Rakuten is a global innovation company with a heritage of disruption, software development and delivery excellence. This heritage guided the creation of the Rakuten Mobile network. But to help bring this vision to life, Rakuten Mobile needed a partner that was able to marry technology leadership with proven experience and business insight to operationalize its new virtualized network.
Accenture collaborated with Rakuten Mobile as an operational enablement partner, designing and implementing multiple aspects of an innovative new cloud-native operating model. The aim was clear: enable the organization’s speed and agility requirements to completely disrupt the communications industry.
"Accenture has provided invaluable support in developing our operations and building out our network."
Accenture helped design the new organization and operating model behind the world’s first fully virtualized mobile network1, including new roles, responsibilities and KPIs.
Accenture created fifty-plus fully virtualized processes, reimagining traditional processes including virtual network functions (VNF), service reliability engineering (SRE) and more.
Accenture created a new network engineering capability, defining and deploying solutions to improve observability of the network, network performance, problem management, and architectural integrity.
Rakuten Mobile and Accenture merged network and IT, infusing DevSecOps and Agile into the organization, established a continuous integration/delivery platform and facilitated the use of automation.
Accenture set up and operationalized Rakuten Mobile’s Service Experience Center (SXC), a next-generation concept helping Rakuten Mobile accelerate network performance and improve stability.
Accenture helped to create a zero-touch network through the Rakuten Network Operating System (RNOS), enabling network intelligence, automation and a true 360-degree view of the network and customer.
Just like any other successful partnership, it’s not just what Rakuten Mobile and Accenture do together, but how they do it. A strong cultural fit is every bit as important as the right technical skills and know-how.
The commitment to stretch our collective imagination and take risks has been present from the start. It had to be: Rakuten Mobile is working in uncharted territory for which there are no prescribed rules or set solutions. The only approach that works in this context is to dive in, experiment, adapt, learn and change.
Accenture’s approach to this bold new adventure has been to share and amplify Rakuten Mobile’s sense of discovery – being prepared to explore the unknown, and bringing in the people, capabilities and assets from across Accenture’s global network to forge the path forward with Rakuten Mobile.
Almost as soon as Rakuten Mobile launched its fully-virtualized network, the benefits of the new cloud native operating model were apparent. Operating costs are significantly lower than traditional network operators, and the pace of software delivery is rising exponentially, thanks to Rakuten Mobile’s world class automation practices.
Rakuten Mobile’s CI/CD platform, powered by Accenture, enables automated build, test, security and deployment functionality for Rakuten Mobile’s engineering teams. The platform allows unparalleled speed and quality for the teams it supports, making it possible for Rakuten Mobile to innovate rapidly and consistently. Rakuten Mobile’s operational savings are passed directly to customers, so that Rakuten Mobile’s pricing is significantly less than normally paid by customers for comparable tariffs in Japan.
It’s clearly an offer that customers find attractive. Just a couple of months after its commercial launch, the Rakuten Mobile network saw significantly increased data traffic compared to a typical operator, with subscriber numbers rising fast. For Rakuten Mobile, this confirms consumers’ desire for its services and bolsters its future ambitions to enable affordable and reliable communications on a global basis.
But Rakuten Mobile is never afraid to continue innovating. It aims to be the master of its own destiny, dictating the pace of innovation and teaming up with partners like Accenture to achieve its lofty ambitions.
Looking into the future, Accenture is working with Rakuten Mobile as their partner on the Rakuten Communications Platform (RCP), a telecommunications-as-a-service offering that’s leading the industry. RCP is a truly cloud-native 5G platform, drawing on Rakuten Mobile’s engineering pedigree and Accenture’s architecture and implementation experience to usher in the new era of computing and telecommunications convergence.
1 For a large scale commercial mobile network (as of October 1, 2019). Research: Stella Associa
"I want to thank the Accenture team for working with us on this courageous journey."