Japanese cellcos to sink USD46bn into delivering nationwide 5G coverage in 2023

7 Jun 2017

Nikkei Asia Review writes that Japan’s incumbent mobile network operators (MNOs) – NTT DOCOMO, SoftBank and KDDI (au) – intend to invest a combined JPY5 trillion (USD45.7 billion) into 5G technology, with one going so far as to target nationwide coverage in 2023. With the three carriers intent on launching new generation services commercially in 2020, the anticipated surge in interest for IoT and self-drive cars etc. is expected to help fuel the boom in spending. The first live 5G networks are expected to come onstream in parts of Tokyo and other select areas ahead of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics, but DOCOMO chief executive Kazuhiro Yoshizawa is quoted as saying national coverage will be a reality in fiscal 2023, adding: ‘We will offer 5G at key regions across Japan in the first three years’. Global standards for 5G could become reality by end-2017 and the Japanese MNOs expect to begin investing in base stations and equipment in fiscal 2019, the paper claims – noting too that DOCOMO, KDDI and SoftBank spent over JPY6 trillion between them installing the current 4G LTE network. The implementation of 5G in their networks is expected to cost less because they will be able to convert some of the 4G stations they operate across the country. Furthermore, DOCOMO has suggested sharing 5G base stations with its two rivals to trim costs, particularly focusing efforts in urban areas.

Japan, KDDI (au), NTT DOCOMO, SoftBank Corp, SoftBank Group Corp