Softbank and its affiliate company, Wireless City Planning, have officially launched the '5G Project'.
As the first phase of the project, which was announced in Tokyo last week, Softbank plans to roll out commercial services based on Massive MIMO technology from September 16, a move which Softbank says will make it the world’s first cellco to provide such services.
Under the plan, SoftBank will be deploying the technology across 100 base stations in 43 cities across Japan, of which 30-40% will be deployed in downtown areas of the Tokyo capital.
At the media conference for the launch last week, Shubun Kitahara, director of the network planning department of SoftBank’s mobile technology division, tested at four locations in downtown Tokyo, which showed that massive MIMO increased communications speed by 6.7 times on average.
According to Softbank, corresponding terminals only need to support SoftBank 4G (compatible with TD-LTE). The service is also available on the SoftBank 4G terminals customized for Y!mobile.
Aiming for 5G commercialization in 2020, Softbank last year signed separate research collaboration agreements with Huawei and ZTE covering the development of stopgap technologies on the road towards 5G.
SoftBank has teamed with ZTE to help develop networking equipment based on ZTE's Pre5G technology, such as the vendor's Massive MIMO base stations.
Massive MIMO base stations have the capacity to support more than 100 antenna elements, allowing up to eight users to transfer data simultaneously.
SoftBank already has cooperation agreements covering Massive MIMO as well as ultra-dense networks and multi-user shared access technology.