“Change is the only constant” is perhaps the most clichéd statement ever. Now imagine in this era of constant change, there’s something that our life revolves around, and yet it hasn’t changed in three decades! Incredible as it may sound, this is true for the basic architecture of the internet.

The legacy architecture has multiple layers that have created not only architectural silos but also political silos inside each of the different communication service providers around the world. So, for example, there’s one silo for optical, one for routing, and so on.

There is an opportunity to simplify this complex and redundant three-layer architecture, making it easier to automate and remove the silos.

We have supported our partner, Rakuten Mobile in Japan, in bringing the optical, IP routing, and ROADM’s pieces together. By simplifying the architecture, Rakuten Mobile has recorded a dramatic 35% savings in CAPEX alone. When we include operational savings, the Greenfield operator moves close to as much as 50% savings.

“Network automation can reduce the overall OPEX by 55%, with task, device, and domain automation, saving 50% and cross-domain orchestration contributing 5%,” says the recent ACG report on Economic Benefits of Network Automation.

So, the question is, how can service providers move from Level 3 to Level 1 of automation to not just improve operational efficiencies but also bring down their expenditure? And it’s really simple.

Keep It Simple!

Typically, there is a lot of lifecycle management in traditional networks to get from a router to a Reconfigurable Optical Add-drop Multiplexer (ROADM). However, this can be simplified to transform the optical infrastructure and make the transponder pluggable.

What this means is that service providers can get rid of a big chunk of the architecture by plugging in the transponder directly into the router. This is then followed by removing the ROADM completely. This approach results in nearly 50% cost improvement and brings down the overall Total Cost of Ownership (TCO).

This approach enables service providers to reduce the time to bring new services to market and reduce power consumption, thereby increasing profitability by providing high-quality services at competitive rates. With this approach, we are helping our partner, Rakuten Mobile, simplify its network architecture and optimize costs.

At Cisco, we believe that this means that we can dramatically change the outcomes for how we are providing connectivity. This approach is pathbreaking because it dramatically reduces the expenditure for service providers, enabling them to expand coverage to connect the unconnected.

Partner For Path Less Traveled  

Rakuten Mobile would be using Segment Routing over IPv6 (SRv6) and Cisco Routed Optical Networking to add operational flexibility, enhance profitability, and improve time-to-market. The service provider would be using this to bring newer opportunities, including 5G and Internet of Things (IoT) offerings, to its enterprise customers.

The SRv6 is also crucial as Rakuten Mobile moves from 5G Non-Standalone to Standalone. Moving to SRv6 will allow Rakuten Mobile to build resilience in the network and support more demanding Service Level Agreements (SLAs).

The second key aspect of the partnership is network slicing. With SRv6 for network slicing architecture, Rakuten Mobile will be able to offer cloud-delivered services, gaming, collaboration, hyperscaling the network, and more.

This advanced platform architecture is helping Rakuten Mobile transform the Rakuten IP transport network to a world-class Converged 5G SDN-ready network. The foundation is strong and, more importantly, future-ready for the new use cases and technologies of tomorrow.

At the same time, our partnership with Rakuten Mobile is not just to advance the telecom operator’s network for 5G and IoT services but also to build a robust foundation for the future. Rakuten Mobile is currently at the cusp of fixed-mobile convergence. The idea is to create a single architecture that combines mobile and FTTX architectures.

Rakuten Mobile’s decision to take the path less traveled promises to inspire other telcos to adopt this approach for better operational efficiencies even as they are able to rapidly introduce new services for their subscribers and gain a business edge by ensuring exceptional quality of services.

Watch how Cisco and Rakuten Mobile are working together to shrink the digital divide and provide a more inclusive internet for all with innovative technology that will carry us into the digital future, Recording Video featuring Tareq Amin, Rakuten Group CTO.


Jonathan Davidson

EVP and General Manager

Cisco Networking