5G software isn't ready yet, but Tareq Amin now manages 5,000 4G cells running on a fully virtualized network that is leading the world. 7,000 more are under contract and 70% of the country will be covered early next year.
Rakuten is an existence proof of a fully virtual network. Almost everyone agrees the future wireless network looks like this, but Amin is the first to build one. Next, Rakuten wants to sell similar systems to telcos around the world and has hired a U.S. representative to make that happen.
This hasn't been easy. He had to pay "hundreds of millions" for custom chips because the off the shelf hardware wasn't fast enough. Vodafone CTO Scott Petty also has a few working Open-RAN systems, but doesn't expect to bring them into his main network until about 2025.
They said it couldn't be done but they were wrong.