Nokia lights up Rakuten network, flies with Irish Aviation Authority

In a double whammy for Nokia, Japanese operator Rakuten Mobile is to deploy the Finnish tech firm’s photonic mesh mobile backhaul network for its 4G and 5G networks, and the Irish Aviation Authority (IAA) has turned to Nokia to upgrade its air traffic control communications network to support migration from legacy services.

Japan’s newest mobile carrier, Rakuten Mobile is to launch what it claims is the world’s first end-to-end fully virtualised cloud-native 5G mobile network. The mobile network will be built on a nationwide optical infrastructure covering all 47 prefectures throughout Japan and supporting backhaul and datacentre interconnect applications.

Nokia’s optical component and wavelength routing technology, the Nokia 1830 Photonic Service Switch, will be used in both the long-haul and metro optical networks, creating a photonic mesh, said to be the first of its kind for a mobile backhaul network. Nokia will also operate Rakuten Mobile’s virtualised core network to manage total cost of ownership.

In addition, Rakuten’s backbone network will be optimised for maximum capacity and lowest cost per bit with Nokia’s Photonic Service Engine 3 (PSE-3) super coherent chipset and C+L Ultra-Wideband wavelength routing.

Nokia says the deployment will enable Rakuten Mobile to grow network bandwidth for the rapid roll-out of both 4G and 5G services, as it needs to support surging mobile data traffic and a new generation of innovative customer services.

“Rakuten Mobile is creating the world’s first end-to-end fully virtualised cloud-native mobile network, delivering unprecedented network agility and disruptive economics to end-users,” said Tareq Amin, CTO at Rakuten Mobile. “Nokia’s Photonic Service Engine 3 coherent chipset and integrated ROADM technology enables us to achieve unprecedented levels of integration and performance in building the mobile network for 4G and 5G.”

Half a world away, Nokia was also announcing the successful deployment of the IAA’s next-generation air traffic control network at its new West Ireland disaster recovery centre. Under the deal, Nokia supplied its IP/MPLS networking products, which have been specifically designed for this level of mission-critical application.

The North Atlantic airspace, most of which the IAA is responsible for, is one of the most crowded airspaces in the world and as air traffic grows, so does the IAA’s requirement for more capacity. Indeed, it is expected that global air traffic will double by 2030. Modern ATC management applications can scale to meet the demand, but IAA required a different kind of network connectivity based on IP.

The new, high-bandwidth IP/MPLS network is designed to increase capacity and ensure smooth operation of new, more demanding air traffic control applications. It will also support legacy, non-IP applications, including end-to-end communications between radar stations.

The IAA also engaged Nokia for professional services offering network design, architecture, integration and deployment. The network was first installed in early 2019, delivering critical voice and radar services to controllers, and Nokia will continue to provide IAA with long-term support and maintenance services.

“Given our responsibility to ensure the smooth operation of the North Atlantic airspace, it has been crucial that Nokia earns our trust,” said Billy Hann, director of ATM operations and strategy at the IAA. “The quality and reliability of its technology and the thoroughness and collaborative approach of its teams has been first class throughout the entire migration process. We are very pleased and confident in the performance of the new network.”

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