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SoftBank enhances Nokia 5G partnership

Leading Japanese mobile network operator, SoftBank, will use Nokia’s 5G equipment and software as part of its standalone network.

Joanna England
|Dec 15|magazine6 min read

One of Japan’s top three mobile network operators will extend its partnership with Nokia to supply core 5G architecture.

The Finnish technology giant announced the expanded collaboration with SoftBank Corp. following the telco’s decision to use cloud-native, 5G core technology from Nokia for its standalone 5G network.

Nokia is already a SoftBank supplier, providing the mobile network operator’s 5G radio access network (RAN) technology. In 2019, SoftBank also opted to use both standalone 5G core and 5G RAN technology from the Swedish provider Ericsson.

SoftBank operator has a long-standing relationship with Nokia technology, having used it to build its 3G network. However, by choosing Ericsson and Nokia, SoftBank is also actively moving away from its former longstanding supplier, Huawei.

The mobile network operator first launched 5G services in the Spring, alongside competitors KDDI and NTT DoCoMo. In April 2020, SoftBank and KDDI established a joint venture, 5G Japan Corporation, to accelerate the building of 5G networks in Japan's rural locales.

SoftBank says the extended collaboration with Nokia will lead to new 5G use cases including VR, AR, fixed wireless access, immersive video services, video surveillance, analytics, cloud robotics and connected vehicles.

According to an official statement released by Nokia, the open 5G Core architecture gives operators the flexibility to be responsive to market demands while controlling costs at a time of growing network complexity. Developed around cloud-native and DevOps principals, Nokia’s 5G Core will automate the lifecycle management of SoftBank’s networks, as well as enable continuous software delivery and integration.

New services

SoftBank will launch the Cloud Mobility Manager and Cloud Mobile Gateway products from Nokia’s Cloud Packet Core portfolio. This will support the massive scale, performance and reliability required for the delivery of Softbank’s 5G services. 

Additionally, Nokia’s Subscriber Data Management with Shared Data Layer and a cloud-native database accessible via industry-standard protocols, will provide an open ecosystem and the integration of third-party apps.

Keiichi Makizono, Senior Vice President, CIO of SoftBank, said of the partnership, “We are pleased to be expanding our relationship with Nokia as we enable fast and reliable 5G service for our subscribers. This 5G core solution will catapult us into the next phase of our 5G transition.”

John Lancaster-Lennox, Head of Market Unit Japan, Nokia, said: “Nokia 5G Core’s near-zero-touch automation capabilities, high-level operational efficiencies, scale and performance will help SoftBank deliver advanced services and experience, and boost network reliability."

He added, “This is a tremendous way to be expanding Nokia’s longstanding relationship with SoftBank.”

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