Japan’s biggest mobile operator by subscribers NTT DOCOMO has announced plans to kick start a ‘medium term strategy’ by 2020, in a move designed to ‘realise a more innovative business structure in the coming era of 5G’, Mobile World Live reports. Under the plan, from May 2017 new 5G trial sites will be built to allow for R&D work with partner companies in the establishment of ‘standard-setting new services’ that leverage the next generation technology’s anticipated strengths – i.e. low latency, ultra-high speed, ultra-large capacity and massive device connectivity. The operator also reports that the aim of its new strategy is to ‘exceed the expectations of customers and help them connect with their aspirations via exciting and unexpected services’.
Previously, DOCOMO set out its stall to introduce a commercial 5G network in time for the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo. In February this year, the cellco announced plans to conduct interoperability testing and over-the-air field trials in Japan based on the 5G New Radio (NR) specifications being developed by 3GPP. The trials will operate in mid-band spectrum at 4.5GHz, as well as millimeter wave (mmWave) spectrum at 28GHz, showcasing the unified 5G NR design across diverse spectrum bands. The trials intend to drive the mobile ecosystem toward rapid validation and commercialisation of 5G NR technologies at scale, enabling timely commercial network launches based on 3GPP Release-15 standard compliant 5G NR infrastructure and devices, a press release stated. The trials will utilise device prototype and base station solutions from US-based Qualcomm Technologies and Sweden’s Ericsson respectively, along with trial environments from NTT DOCOMO, to simulate real-world scenarios across a broad set of use cases and deployment scenarios. The interoperability testing and trials, which will launch in Japan in the first half of 2018, are intended to track closely with, as well as help accelerate, the first 3GPP 5G NR specification that will be part of Release 15 – a global 5G standard that will make use of both sub-6GHz and mmWave spectrum bands. Also in February 2017, NEC Corp announced the successful completion of a joint trial with DOCOMO concerning 5G base station verification trials of Massive MIMO technology – which are seen as a key component of next generation base stations. Meanwhile, in November 2016 the cellco confirmed that a field trial of 5G network technology operating in the 4.5GHz band – deployed by Huawei – had achieved speeds of up to 11.29Gbps and a latency of less than 0.5 milliseconds – one-tenth that seen in typical 4G LTE setups.