SoftBank to bring forward 5G rollout timetable, paper says

17 Sep 2019

The Nikkei Japan has learned that domestic mobile network operator (MNO) SoftBank Corp, which aims to kick off commercial 5G services by next March, is looking to accelerate its deployment timetable and finish building phase one of the network two years earlier than originally planned. Masayoshi Son-led SoftBank had initially targeted the installation of 11,210 base stations countrywide serving more than 60% of the population by March 2025, but in a bid to gain a competitive advantage on its rivals, now hopes to reach that goal by early 2023, with a second phase of expansion to follow. SoftBank is using base stations made by Sweden’s Ericsson and Finland-based Nokia with multiple antennas to reduce the problem of bottlenecks in high-population traffic areas; it plans to combine this technology with AI to optimise transmission.

It is understood that SoftBank’s main rivals NTT DOCOMO and KDDI (au) are both considering moves to bring forward their 5G deployments plans as well, whilst the new fourth MNO Rakuten Mobile has been forced to postpone its full commercial launch from October 2019 to spring 2020. As previously reported by CommsUpdate, earlier this month Japan’s would-be fourth operator postponed its full commercial launch due to infrastructure deployment delays which it fears renders its current network unable to cope with large volumes of traffic by October.

Japan, SoftBank Corp