KDDI Corp president Makoto Takahashi says that the Japanese carrier plans to launch ‘pre-5G’ mobile services in September 2019, ahead of the sale of 5G handsets from March 2020. In the conference call, as reported by RCRWireless News, Takahashi set out KDDI’s stall to roll out 5G coverage to 93% of its footprint within five years, noting: ‘We’ve been able to acquire frequency bands where global 5G use is expected, it’s significant: 3.7GHz and 4GHz [spectrum]’. The official, who pointed out that domestic mobile network operators (MNOs) have agreed to share some 5G infrastructure, went on to add: ‘We positively see business opportunities in utilising 5G for regional revitalisation. We’ve been cooperating with various municipalities to work on projects utilising IoT. To further advance these measures, we established a regional revitalisation fund in April 2019. Going forward together with venture companies we will promote digital transformation utilising 5G’.
Japan’s MNOs – NTT DOCOMO, KDDI, SoftBank Corp and newcomer Rakuten Mobile – plan to launch 5G commercially in 2020 and last month, the government rubber-stamped their plans to invest upwards of JPY1.6 trillion (USD14.4 billion) over the next five years to reach national coverage. As previously reported by CommsUpdate, DOCOMO plans to invest around JPY795 billion over the initial period, with KDDI committing to invest JPY466 billion, SoftBank JPY206 billion and Rakuten JPY194 billion, respectively. Preliminary information suggests that NTT DOCOMO and KDDI have committed to reaching >90% coverage by that date, while SoftBank and Rakuten have set more conservative targets of 64% and 56%, respectively.