MIC mulls 5G fee to subsidise future fibre rollouts in rural Japan

22 Jan 2020

The Japan Times writes that the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications (MIC) is contemplating plans to make mobile carriers and fibre-based ISPs charge their customers a small fee each month, with the monies collected to be distributed among companies operating fibre infrastructure in unprofitable parts of the country – including mountain zones and remote islands – in a bid to improve rural coverage in as affordable way as possible. The ministry is keen to ensure that fibre-optic infrastructure for the support of 5G wireless networks can be built and maintained countrywide, and will launch a review panel this spring with a view to introducing the planned fee system in the mid-20s.

NTT Corp’s regional fixed line operators NTT East and NTT West currently collect a universal service-based monthly fee of JPY2 (USD0.02) from every mobile and fixed line phone user to maintain their fixed networks across Japan. It is understood the government-appointed panel will consider moves to introduce a new fee system for fibre-optic networks based on the existing model. While 5G networks promise data speeds far in excess of those currently offered by LTE-based systems, they also require significantly more base stations than 4G equivalents – hence the need to provide a backstop for 5G network infrastructure in unprofitable areas.