NTT DOCOMO chief technical officer Seizo Onoe says the carrier has ‘ambitious plans’ for 5G technology and, as part of the ongoing deployment of 4G LTE, is targeting 1Gbps data speeds before it rolls out 5G from 2020. In an interview with Mobile World Live, the CTO notes the importance of 5G in the cellco’s ongoing network development programme, but sees solid investment in LTE as key to achieving the longer term goals of the newer technology. With plans to move to 1Gbps speeds on its LTE-Advanced (LTE-A) networks, he said ‘we need 5G speeds over 1Gbps beyond 2020’. Onoe went on to say that DOCOMO expects 5G to throw up a number of ‘unexpected new services’, but that currently the most important aspect is the standardisation of the new technology. ‘I’m sure 3GPP will release Release 15 in 2018, then we can launch 5G in 2020,’ he said. DOCOMO is on record as saying it would like to launch the next generation of mobile technologies in time for the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.
As previously reported by TeleGeography’s CommsUpdate, earlier this month DOCOMO announced its intentions to up peak download speeds on its Premium 4G LTE service to 500Mbps next year. The operator’s new president and CEO Kazuhiro Yoshizawa says that the MNO is currently delivering speeds of up to 300Mbps on its LTE-A systems, and in the current financial year (ending 31 March 2017) will offer speeds of up to 375Mbps using carrier aggregation (CA) technology. Launched in March 2015, the cellco’s LTE-A infrastructure uses a combination of spectrum in the 700MHz, 800MHz, 1500MHz, 1700MHz and 2000MHz bands, and currently covers 976 cities across Japan. Yoshizawa also confirmed DOCOMO’s aim to commercially launch 5G services in fiscal year 2020, noting the telco is collaborating with Nokia and Ericsson on the technical development of 5G technology. In June this year Ericsson and DOCOMO announced the success of a joint Proof of Concept (PoC) trial of dynamic network slicing technology for 5G networks, marking a milestone in the development of the next generation of cellular technologies. According to Ericsson, the trial demonstrated how to virtually partition a physical network into multiple co-existing logical networks which are capable of providing the most suitable resources and network topology to different types of services. In the PoC, ‘a slice-management function and network slices based on service requirements were autonomously created, enabling widely varying services to be delivered simultaneously via multiple logical networks. The PoC shows how 5G services could be connected flexibly between networks according to set policies in order to meet specific service requirements for latency, security or capacity.’