DOCOMO picks NEC to supply 5G mobile core; hits 500,000 subs milestone

5 Nov 2020

NEC Corporation has been selected by NTT DOCOMO to supply a 5G mobile core network (5GC) compatible with 5G Standalone (SA) technology that the mobile operator plans to launch in 2021. In a press release, NEC said that in addition to the 5GC it will provide ‘a compact user data processor, the ‘UPF mini’, as part of driving further development of NTT DOCOMO’s SA 5G, and meeting the diverse network needs of the 5G era, including support for 5G features such as enhanced mobile broadband (eMBB), massive machine-type communications (mMTC), and ultra-reliable and low latency communications (URLLC).’

The Japanese vendor already provides the carrier with core networking vEPC for its 4G LTE networks and notes that the 5G service launched by NTT DOCOMO in March this year uses an extension of this vEPC and operates as a Non-Standalone (NSA) core network. NEC also provides LTE/5G base stations.

As previously reported by CommsUpdate, last month DOCOMO, NEC and Fujitsu achieved what they claimed was the ‘world’s first carrier aggregation [CA] using 5G frequency bands in a multi-vendor Radio Access Network (RAN)’. In a joint press release, the companies said that interoperability with multi-vendor 5G base station equipment was achieved ‘in compliance with specifications established by the Open Radio Access Network (O-RAN) Alliance’. DOCOMO confirmed that CA used the 3.7GHz and 4.5GHz bands designated for 5G networks, and noted that by bundling LTE bands, downlink speeds of 4.2Gbps ‘will be achievable, enabling ultra-fast data transmission’.

DOCOMO closed out September 2020 with a total of 380,000 5G subscribers on its books and in a recent conference call, its president and CEO Kazuhiro Yoshizawa said the cellco had boosted that to 500,000 by the end of October. DOCOMO is maintaining its target of 2.5 million 5G subscribers at the end of the financial year ending 30 March 2021.