NTT DOCOMO today (25 March 2020) launched Japan’s first 5G smartphone service, throwing down the gauntlet to rivals KDDI (au), SoftBank Corp and newcomer Rakuten Mobile, whose own launches are expected in the coming days and weeks.
Although Japan is lagging behind pioneers such as South Korea and the United States, which kicked off their 5G services last year, NTT DOCOMO says its next generation network is now live in 150 areas in Japan covering 29 of the nation’s 47 prefectures. In the launch phase, each prefecture will be allocated at least one mobile phone base station by the end of June, a statement from the cellco read. The country’s largest mobile operator by subscribers confirmed that it will offer users a plan with 100GB of data for JPY7,650 (USD69) per month, excluding taxes, although the fee comes down to as little as JPY4,480 when combined with various discounts. Further, DOCOMO – which is selling 5G-compatible Sharp Aquos R5G and Samsung Galaxy S20 5G smartphones for prices upwards of JPY97,460 – notes that there will be no cap on the amount of data transmitted for the time being in a promotional campaign period.
KDDI (au) and SoftBank Corp aim to launch 5G services on 26 March and 27 March, respectively, with Rakuten set to make full-scale entry into the market on 8 April, with plans to launch its 5G operation in June.