NTT DOCOMO accelerates 5G with Fujitsu, Intel, NEC initiatives

26 Feb 2018

Japan’s largest mobile network operator (MNO) by subscribers NTT DOCOMO has announced a raft of 5G-related initiatives as it looks to accelerate its commercial launch plans. In the first announcement, Fujitsu Limited says it will provide the MNO with base station hardware, with an eye on the launch of commercial services using 5G radio technologies in 2020. It is understood that to smoothly roll out the next generation services, DOCOMO aims to deploy a 5G network using currently available equipment and here, Fujitsu will support its efforts by developing systems that can flexibly and simultaneously operate with 3G, LTE and LTE-A platforms. ‘This will be primarily through changes to software, with the minimum number of hardware changes necessary to support 5G, using Fujitsu’s existing base station for 3G, LTE and LTE-A radio access technologies,’ the vendor said in a statement.

Meanwhile, Intel and NTT DOCOMO have revealed they aim to bring 5G ‘smart city’ technology to Tokyo for the Olympic Games in 2020. Intel’s chief strategy officer, Aicha Evans, outlined a new partnership to prove the commercial readiness of 5G by rolling a network out across the Japanese capital during the event, building on Intel’s work with South Korea’s KT Corp in Pyeongchang for this year’s Winter Olympics. According to the official, the proposed 5G network will foreground three distinct applications: firstly, it will offer high resolution video, including 360-degree and 8K-video streams; secondly, it promises new artificial intelligence (AI) that will enable athletes to better assess the effectiveness of their training regimes; while thirdly – and perhaps most importantly – Ms Evans says is the plan to transform Tokyo into a smart city, utilising resources such as a flotilla of connected cars to change how fans move through the city during the event. ‘Because of heightened intelligence in devices and at the edge, the 5G network will tackle unique data-intensive workloads, such as pervasive facial recognition, useful for everything from stadium access to threat reduction,’ she said in a recent blog.

Finally, NEC says it is trialling a ‘massive-element active antenna base station system’ in partnership with NTT DOCOMO to improve 5G speeds and quality by reducing radio wave interference. The Japanese vendor confirmed plans to undertake verification trials of 5G technologies at the Yokosuka Research Park and NEC’s Tamagawa Plant. In a press release, NEC said the tests will comprise coordinated control between distribution units by using its low super-high frequency band – between 3GHz and 6GHz – massive-element active antenna system (AAS) base station system. When used in conjunction with a centralised-radio access network (C-RAN) configuration, NEC says a central unit (CU) can control several DUs simultaneously. ‘The CU exchanges information on terminals connected to different DUs between multiple DUs. DUs then form directional signals [beams] while performing coordination control between DUs,’ it said.

Japan, Fujitsu, Intel, NEC, NTT DOCOMO