Finnish equipment maker Nokia has been selected by Japanese mobile operator KDDI (branded au) to upgrade its 4G LTE network to 5G using its AirScale radio access solution – which supports both technologies. The launch of AirScale in 2020 will enable KDDI to modernise its 4G network and meet the growing consumer and industrial demands for 5G, it confirmed in a press release, adding that the contract for 5G radio ‘re-enforces the strong relationship between the two companies, which dates back over two decades’. On completion, the nationwide network upgrade will deliver ‘enhanced Mobile Broadband (eMBB) to consumers and enhanced Machine Type Communication (eMTC [also know as LTE-M]) enabling multiple new applications and services for industries in the 5G era,’ it confirmed. Moreover, the network architecture – which supports both the cmWave and mmWave 5G frequency bands – will also be transformed to enable 5G Ultra Reliable Low Latency Connectivity (URLLC).
Commenting, John Harrington, Head of Nokia Japan, said: ‘This deal will allow KDDI to get ready for the 5G era and we are honoured and excited to continue our long-term relationship. As an end-to-end supplier of multiple technologies to KDDI, we look forward to transforming the network and launching 5G for consumers and industries.’
In a related press announcement, Ericsson of Sweden says it will supply KDDI with radio access network (RAN) gear to support the cellco’s planned commercial launch in March 2020. By that date, KDDI expects the first commercial live fifth-generation services to be available, with more than 93% coverage of 5G base station areas specified by Japan’s telecom regulation body – the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications (MIC) – by 31 March 2025. Under the contract, Ericsson will supply KDDI with RAN equipment, including products and solutions from the Ericsson Radio System portfolio, allowing the Japanese firm ‘to maximise its spectrum assets and enable the service provider to roll out commercial 5G services in several parts of Japan on [its] sub-6GHz and 28GHz bands for 5G New Radio (NR)’. KDDI’s selection of Ericsson as a 5G vendor follows nearly four years of close collaboration on 5G between the companies. The pair have carried out a series of joint tests across a wide range of 5G use cases on the 4.5GHz and 28GHz frequency bands, including interoperability between 5G and LTE.