Japan’s leading mobile operator by subscribers NTT DOCOMO has unveiled plans for its open partner programme which it hopes will enable local business and government organisations to explore and develop new use cases for 5G technology. TelecomAsia cites DOCOMO senior executive vice president Toshiki Nakayama as saying that the ‘5G Open Partner Program’ is designed to establish a platform for business and organisation partners interested in 5G to experience the technology in its nascent phase, serve as a hub for ‘information exchange’ and bolster cooperation between the cellco and its partners where it comes to ‘cultivating’ new use cases for 5G. By the end of last month, 523 companies and organisations had already expressed an interest in taking part in the 5G Open Partner Program, Nakayama said. DOCOMO will start offering the new programme to its partners from 21 February 2018, providing workshops and the latest 5G information, with the provision of 5G via an open-use environment becoming available from April onwards.
Last month DOCOMO signed an agreement with Nokia for the supply of 5G baseband products to support the planned commercial launch of next generation services by 2020. Under the contract, the Finland-based vendor will both enhance DOCOMO’s existing base station units and integrate its 5G New Radio (5G NR)-based AirScale hardware in the network, which will provide the cellco’s customers with what it claims will be ‘a unique experience fuelled by 5G’s extreme high speed, superior capacity and ultra-low latency’. Nokia’s solution is expected to deliver a natural upgrade path to existing 4G LTE deployments while simultaneously integrating into DOCOMO’s existing operational environment.