Japanese operator SoftBank has selected Nordic vendors Ericsson and Nokia for the deployment of a 5G network in Japan, the vendors said in separate statements.
Ericsson said it has been selected by SoftBank as a primary 5G vendor for the deployment of a multi-band 5G network in Japan.
The Swedish vendor said this decision follows a series of successful joint proof-of-concept activities that began in 2015. Collaboration between the two companies included 5G testing of multiple bands, including 28 GHz and 4.5 GHz.
Under the terms of the agreement, Ericsson will provide SoftBank with radio access network equipment, including products from the Ericsson Radio System portfolio. This will enable SoftBank to launch 5G services on their newly granted 3.9-4.0 GHz and 29.1-29.5 GHz bands for 5G New Radio (NR).
Ericsson will also reinforce SoftBank’s existing LTE network while optimizing its 5G network. Ericsson Radio System products for this purpose will be deployed in several regions, which will allow the Japanese operator to boost its spectrum assets, Ericsson said.
SoftBank expects to launch commercial 5G services in Japan within this fiscal year.
Also, SoftBank selected Nokia for the deployment of the latter’s Nokia’s 5G AirScale solution.
Nokia’s 5G AirScale supports multiple frequencies, in both distributed and centralized architectures. Nokia’s 5G solution will be deployed across Japan, bringing the 5G RAN to businesses and consumers.
Nokia said that this deployment will allow the telco to provide 5G enhanced Mobile BroadBand (eMBB) service, with 5G Ultra Reliable Low Latency Connectivity (URLLC) and enhanced Machine Type Communication (eMTC) enabling multiple new applications and services for industries in the 5G era.
Last month, Japan’s government approved plans by the country’s four mobile carriers to build 5G wireless networks with investment set to reach JPY 1.6 trillion ($14.4 billion) over the next five years.
Applications submitted by NTT DoCoMo, KDDI, SoftBank and e-commerce giant Rakuten were approved by the communications ministry after determining that the companies’ applications met the conditions of the allocation of 5G spectrum.
NTT DoCoMo is planning the largest spend with goals to invest at least JPY 795 billion in the deployment of 5G networks during this period. KDDI announced investments of JPY 466 billion, while SoftBank and Rakuten are targeting investments of JPY 206 billion and JPY 194 billion respectively.
The conditions for the allocation of 5G spectrum included commitments to offer services in every prefecture of the nation within two years, and to set up 5G base stations in at least half the country within five years.
According to published reports, NTT DoCoMo and KDDI are each targeting to cover over 90% of the country’s population with 5G by the end of the five-year period, while SoftBank is targeting 64% coverage and Rakuten is aiming for 56%.
NTT DoCoMo previously said it plans to launch pre-commercial 5G services in September 2019. The company also said that customers will be able to experience 5G services during the Rugby World Cup this year.
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