Mobile network operator (MNO) KDDI Corp, which markets services under the au banner, has announced that the commercial launch of 5G services will take place on Thursday 26 March, backed by an unlimited data plan costing JPY8,650 (USD78.1) per month and the option of Netflix and Apply Music streaming, as it looks to attract customers with high data requirements. Further, it notes that for some customers combining a number of active promotions, the price of its unlimited data plan could drop to as little as JPY3,460 for the duration of the offer. KDDI’s announcement comes in the wake of similar launch statements from NTT DOCOMO and SoftBank Corp, which plan to kick off 5G services from Wednesday and Friday, respectively, with new fourth operator Rakuten Mobile looking to join the party from April.
From launch, KDDI’s new ultra-fast 5G mobile services will go live in 15 of Japan’s 47 prefectures, before it looks to begin expanding coverage nationwide from the summer. In the medium-term, it is aiming to install 10,000 base transceiver stations (BTS) by 31 March 2021 and another 10,000 BTS by the end of March 2022. It will reportedly sell seven new 5G-compatible smartphones including handsets developed by Chinese makers Xiaomi and Guangdong Oppo Mobile Telecommunications.
Commenting on this week’s launch plans, the MNO’s president Makoto Takahashi told reporters: ‘We made quite audacious price plans … We hope 5G use will be boosted in areas such as entertainment, arts, sports and amusement … We hope to win over two million users by the end of fiscal 2020’, adding that the target figure is ‘slightly lower’ than the number of subscribers it initially projected to sign up when it first launched its 4G services.