KMW said on Monday that it has supplied around half of the 4G equipment it needs to Rakuten Mobile as of December.
The company had supplied 39.4 billion won worth out of its 89 billion won supply deal with the Japanese carrier up to December 15.
The remaining kits will be supplied by the first quarter of 2021, KMW said. It was originally expected to be supplied by the end of 2020.
KMW’s kits have been well received by Rakuten Mobile and the Korea firm is hoping for more orders, people familiar with the matter said.
KMW supplies remote radio antenna (RRA) to the Japanese company. RRA combines the antenna with a remote radio head.
Rakuten Mobile launched its 4G services in April of last year. It has used RRA since the beginning. It uses Nokia’s remote radio head with KMW’s antenna earlier but began using RRA from KMW in the second stage of investment.
RRA has the antenna closely attached near the radio head. This allows the equipment to not use cables to connect the two which increases power efficiency and saves costs.
Rakuten is also building a fully virtualized network, or open RAN. This saved it 40% in CAPEX and 30% in operation cost, the company had said.
Open RAN opens the protocol of the fronthaul, which allows radio units and digital units to be made by different manufacturers. This differs from the previous method where one telecom equipment maker will supply all of them.
Besides Rakuten, Spain’s Telefonica and US’ Dish Network are also adopting open RAN. Dish Network is a new carrier in the US. Telefonica has around 344 million subscribers in 14 countries.
Last month, Telefonica said it has chosen NEC as the vendor for its open RAN pilot to be built in Germany. KMW is expected to supply its kit for the network. NEC is also supplying 5G radio unit to Rakuten Mobile. In September, Telefonica and Rakuten has signed an agreement to collaborate in open RAN.