NTT DOCOMO announced today (18 March) that it will launch its fifth-generation mobile network on 25 March, pipping rival SoftBank Corp to the post by two days, with the new service initially available at 150 locations in Japan. The nation’s largest mobile carrier confirmed in a press release that it aims to deploy at least one base station on each of Japan’s 47 prefectures by the end of June, rising to 500 cities covered by March 2021. Further, by end-June 2021 it expects to have installed 10,000 5G base stations and 20,000 by 31 March 2022.
NTT DOCOMO plans to offer the new 5G Gigaho plan for JPY5,480 (USD51) per month, excluding local taxes, and including 100GB of data. It also has a range of Gigalight plans that offer 7GB for JPY3,980, 5GB (JPY2,980), 3GB (JPY2,480), and 1GB (JPY1,980) per month, respectively. It notes, however, that for the time being there will be no upper limit on the data amount due to a promotional campaign. Some of the initial use cases DOCOMO will pitch to users are live virtual events in 8K resolution, multi-angle viewing of J League football matches, business solutions such as remote work assistance via VR, and facial recognition, it said. In terms of handsets, DOCOMO is offering the Samsung Galaxy S20 5G and Aquos R5G from launch, with the LG V60ThinQ and Xperia 1 II to follow in May, and Samsung Galaxy S20+ 5G to appear in May. A personal Wi-Fi hotspot device is also due to be activated in May.
As previously reported by CommsUpdate, earlier this month DOCOMO rival SoftBank unveiled plans to launch 5G commercial services on 27 March 2020, as the race to dominate the next generation of mobile technology gets underway. Newcomer Rakuten Mobile plans to kick off its commercial service on 8 April, while KDDI (au) has yet to announce its launch plans.