Japan's cellcos to invest over $45.5b in 5G

08 Jun 2017

Japan's three major mobile operators plan to invest a combined 5 trillion yen ($45.5 billion) towards deploying 5G services nationwide, with NTT DoCoMo targeting nationwide coverage by as early as 2023.

The Nikkei Asian Review reports that DoCoMo, KDDI and Softbank all plan to spend heavily on the commercialization of 5G, and are expected to work together on deployment to expedite the process.

The report states that DoCoMo parent NTT has proposed to share 5G base stations with Softbank and KDDI to reduce the costs of a rollout. The two rivals are expected to agree, and particularly favor infrastructure sharing in urban areas.

Meanwhile the three operators have a long-standing target of commercializing 5G in parts of Tokyo in time for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics. The operators also plan to start investing in 5G base station and related equipment as early as the 2019 financial year.

The report notes that DoCoMo, KDDI and Softbank together spent over 6 trillion yen deploying 4G networks, but that the cost of the 5G migration will be less because some existing 4G base stations can be converted to 5G.

The aggressive approach to rolling out 5G is reportedly motivated by slowing subscriber growth and growing competition from low-cost carriers.

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