Displaying items by tag: SoftBank

SoftBank’s Sprint ends merger discussions with T-Mobile

Written on Monday, 06 November 2017 10:03

Japan-based SoftBank Group’s plans to break off negotiations toward a merger between subsidiary Sprint and T-Mobile US amid a failure to come to terms on ownership of the combined entity, dashing the Japanese technology giant's hopes of reshaping the American wireless business.

SoftBank is expected to approach T-Mobile owner Deutsche Telekom as early to propose ending the talks, according to Nikkei. They had reached a broad agreement to integrate T-Mobile and Sprint, the third- and fourth-largest carriers in the US, and were ironing out such details as the ownership ratio.

The German parent had insisted on a controlling stake, according to a source familiar with the situation. Some at SoftBank were initially amenable as long as the Japanese company retained some influence. But SoftBank's board discussed at a meeting that the company would not give up control. The decision was made to call the talks off.

Sprint's position in the US mobile market is weaker than its No. 4 ranking would suggest. The carrier sits well behind the top two Verizon Communications and AT&T in scale and subscribers. The hope was that a merger with T-Mobile would reinforce Sprint's customer base enough to let it challenge the duopoly while allowing for more efficient network investment. In addition, they have sold or mortgaged most assets.

SoftBank tried to buy T-Mobile in 2014, but the idea was abandoned amid opposition from regulators under then-President Barack Obama. The failure of this latest effort leaves Sprint, which was acquired by SoftBank in 2013, to keep working toward a turnaround on its own.

In early morning trading in Tokyo, SoftBank shares fell to 9,830 yen, down 5.8 percent from Monday's closing price. The share price had risen to 10,550 yen on Monday (Nov. 30), a 17-year high since the burst of the dot-com bubble. The shares closed the morning session at 9,921 yen, down 4.9 percent.

"Investors were buying SoftBank partially on the merger hopes, so the news has a negative impact. It will be difficult to maintain the stock price over the 10,000 level," said Tomoaki Kawasaki, senior analyst at Iwai Cosmo.

Published in Telecom Operators

PLDT, NTT Communications, PCCW Global, SoftBank, Facebook and Amazon have selected TE SubCom to install a high-capacity transpacific cable system scheduled to launch in 2020. TE SubCom, a TE Connectivity Ltd. Company, is an industry pioneer in undersea communications technology.

“The demand for bandwidth in the Pacific region continues to grow at a remarkable rate, and is accompanied by the rise of capacity-dependent applications like live video, augmented and virtual reality, and 4k/8k video,” said Koji Ishii of SoftBank, co-chairperson of JUPITER consortium.

The JUPITER cable system will connect the following locations: Maruyama, Japan; Shima, Japan; Los Angeles, California; and Daet, Camarines Norte, Philippines. The new transpacific route will provide greater diversity of connections and enhanced reliability for customers, as well as optimal connectivity to data centers on the West Coast of the United States.

“JUPITER will provide the necessary diversity of connections and the highest capacity available to meet the needs of the evolving marketplace,” Ishii added. “TE SubCom has a proven record of success in the design and implementation of innovative, scalable and robust transoceanic cable systems, making the company the most reliable choice for the JUPITER supply partner.”

Sanjay Chowbey, president of TE SubCom, said submarine cables continue to have a critical impact on the global economy, as well as cultural, educational and medical advancement around the world.

“It is our privilege to help facilitate the growth of global connectivity and provide reliable, high-capacity and low-latency transmission to regions where bandwidth is at a premium,” Chowbey said. “We look forward to the next phases of what will be a high quality and industry leading system implementation.” 

Published in Infrastructure

STC’s Q3 net income up 18.2% to reach SAR 7.5bn

Written on Tuesday, 31 October 2017 08:50

Saudi Telecom Company (STC), Saudi Arabia’s largest telecom company, announced the company’s interim financial results for the period ending at 30 September 2017. The group’s net income for the 3rd quarter of 2017 increased 18.2 percent compared to the comparable quarter last year, and for the 9 months period of 2017, net income reached SR 7.5 billion, an increase of 10.4 percent compared to the comparable period last year.

The company’s operating profit for the 3rd quarter increased 23 percent compared to comparable quarter last year, while earnings per share for the 9 months period of 2017 grew to reach SR 3.76 compared to SR 3.41 for the comparable period last year.

STC CEO, Dr. Khalid Biyari, said the results reflect growth in enterprise and wholesale sectors which achieved revenue despite a decline in consumer revenue during the period. The results were also achieved, he said, despite various economic and regulatory conditions in the domestic market.

STC adopted a strategy years ago to focus on diversifying sources and introducing innovative programs to achieve operational efficiency. Therefore, net income for the 3rd quarter increased 18.2 percent compared to the comparable period last year, and for the 9 months period of 2017 net income increased 10.4 percent compared to the comparable period last year.

Dr. Biyari said that STC, through its various subsidiaries, works “hard and steadily side by side with public and private sector in the Kingdom to establish a contemporary environment for the digital transformation in Saudi Arabia and to establish a modern environment that contributes to the spread of the digital environment.”

STC’s growth strategy adopted recently seeks to achieve the kingdom’s Vision 2030 and the NTP 2020 which means entering into major transformation. The telecom sector, said Dr. Biyari, is seeking new opportunities outside of traditional services. The transformation will provide STC with new opportunities outside its core business, and thus its market capitalization will rapidly increase. 

“As an example of a new era for Sales and Distribution, (STC channels) was re-launched recently with an  innovative digital vision and new spirit as an important selling and distribution arm of the group, which is an important part of the transition to digital channels in the service of our clients and providing innovative new services,” Dr. Biyari said. “This will be followed by successive steps in the near future that will bring us closer to our objectives in meeting the customers’ needs and achieve attractive returns for the investors.”

In accordance with the approved dividend policy for three years starting from the 4th quarter 2015 which was announced on 11 November 2015, and have been ratified during the General Assembly Meeting on April 4th 2016, STC will distribute a total of SR 2,000 million in cash dividend for Q3 2017, representing SR 1 per share.

Published in Infrastructure

Ericsson, PS Solutions Corp. (affiliated with SoftBank Group Corp.), and CKD Corporation, a supplier of actuation products, are collaborating on an update to “e-kakashi”, a platform which applies artificial intelligence (AI) and Internet of Things (IoT) technologies into agricultural processes. First introduced by PS Solutions in 2015, the second-generation “e-kakashi” platform will launch in March 2018.

“True collaboration is the only way to bring real automated IoT uses cases to life,” said Mikael Eriksson, Head of Ericsson Japan. “The combination of PS Solutions’ experience, applications and insight in the industry, along with the advanced features provided by Ericsson IoT, will create positive change for agriculture."

An IoT scarecrow with an AI brain

The Japanese word kakashi translates to scarecrow, but PS Solutions' “e-kakashi” does much more than frighten off pests. With a powerful combination of AI, IoT and cloud technology, “e-kakashi” is designed to maintain an ideal environment for almost any crop to grow in. Japanese manufacturer CKD Corporation, a pioneer in actuation, provides the electro/pneumatic devices that allow the IoT machinery to be controlled remotely.

Easy onboarding of agricultural IoT machinery

The “e-kakashi” platform can easily integrate new IoT devices as agriculturalists need them. Through the Zero Touch Onboarding functionality of the Ericsson IoT Accelerator platform, devices are immediately accessible after installation. No physical control panels are needed, as all functions are handled in the cloud.

Zero Touch Onboarding, which allows devices to be onboarded to the IoT Accelerator platform and then managed through their lifecycles with ease, uses the Open Mobile Alliance Lightweight Machine to Machine (a protocol from the Open Mobile Alliance for machine-to-machine or IoT device management) and smart objects from The Internet Protocol for Smart Objects (IPSO) Alliance. These are complements to cellular IoT connectivity.

PS Solutions will use Ericsson IoT Accelerator’s building blocks with SoftBank’s cellular connectivity, which is also powered by Ericsson. Incorporating data on variables such as temperature, humidity and precipitation, “e-kakashi” uses AI to automatically optimize growing conditions. For example, to maintain the ideal temperature for growing tomatoes, “e-kakashi” adjusts greenhouse ventilation accordingly.

Using an intuitive app from PS solutions with comprehensive data visualization, the “e-kakashi” user can modify the AI-based standard settings to apply their own professional know-how.

The current solution monitors temperature, humidity, CO2 and other conditions, and guides what actions to take next based on the AI engine. With the support of analytics from Ericsson IoT Accelerator, the next generation of “e-kakashi” will enable higher automation by connecting with actuators.

Ericsson expanding IoT possibilities in Japan

Ericsson IoT Accelerator gives operators a low cost, reliable method to support enterprise IoT with a large number of connected devices.

With the rapid growth of IoT, there are great opportunities for operators to expand revenue with new services. PS Solutions' parent company, network operator SoftBank, has partnered with Ericsson to expand networks and increase IoT revenue streams in Japan. In April 2017, SoftBank began rolling out Ericsson solutions to support the deployment of cellular IoT services across Japan.

Published in Internet of Things

SoftBank and Huawei demonstrate 5G use cases

Written on Sunday, 17 September 2017 07:29

Japan’s SoftBank and Huawei Technologies Japan teamed up to demonstrate various potential use cases for a 5G network to SoftBank’s business partners. The use cases included ultra-high throughput, ultra-low latency transmission, and edge computing.

The demonstration included real-time UHD video transmission using ultra-high throughput, remote control of a robotic arm using ultra-low latency transmission, and remote rendering via a GPU server using edge computing. The real-time UHD video transmission demonstrated throughput of over 800 Mbps. Also, the remote control of the robotic arm demonstrated an ultra-low latency one-way transmission of less than 2ms.

SoftBank is planning various experiments to study 5G technologies and is endeavoring to launch 5G commercial services around 2020.

Real-time UHD video transmission

For the real-time UHD video transmission demonstration, a UHD camera was installed inside the demonstration room to capture outdoor scenery. The data from this camera was then compressed in real-time using an encoder and transmitted through the ultra-high throughput 5G network to a UHD monitor via a decoder, where the original data was recovered.

In this demonstration, the scenery of the Odaiba Tokyo Bay area was successfully displayed on the UHD monitor using the ultra-high throughput provided by the 5G network. This technology can be applied to various industries, including tele-health or tele-education.

Immersive video

In the immersive video demonstration, scenery was captured by a 180-degree camera equipped with four lenses pointing four different directions installed in the demonstration room, and captured scenery was distributed to smartphones and tablets over the 5G network.

Four separate cameras were set up to capture the scenery in different directions, and the video images captured by these cameras were stitched together to generate a 180-degree panoramic video image that enabled multiple simultaneous camera views.

Then the video image was compressed and distributed to smartphones or tablets in real-time over the 5G network, which gives users a truly realistic user experience. Coupled with a 5G network, this technology can be applied to virtual reality (VR) or augmented reality (AR).

Remote control of robotic arm with ultra-low latency

For the remote control of robotic arm with ultra-low latency demonstration, a robotic arm played an air hockey game against a human in this demonstration. A camera installed on top of the air hockey table detected the puck's position to calculate its trajectory.

The calculated result was then forwarded to the robotic arm control server to control the robotic arm. In this demonstration, the robotic arm was able to strike back the puck shot by the human player on various trajectories. This technology can be applied to factory automation, for example.

Remote rendering by GPU server

Remote rendering by GPU server was also demonstrated. Rendering is a technology used to generate videos or images using computers with GPUs (Graphic Processor Unit). This technology is used for generating HD videos in computer games or for CAD (Computer Aided Design).

The rendering consumes a large amount of computing resources. Therefore, HD computer games or HD CADs were not executable on tablets or smartphones on their own. However, edge computing technology provided by the 5G network allows us to enjoy HD computer games or HD CADs on tablets or smartphones.

A GPU server located near a 5G base station performed rendering and the image generated by the GPU server was sent to the tablet over the ultra-high throughput and ultra-low latency 5G network. This technology can be applied to check the CAD data at a construction site with a tablet or to enjoy an HD game application on a smartphone.

Published in Telecom Vendors

Chinese bike-sharing provider ofo and SoftBank Commerce & Service Corp. (SoftBank C&S) announced that the two have reached a basic agreement to collaborate on the deployment of ofo’s global bike-sharing business in Japan.

ofo and SoftBank C&S plan to enter an exclusive partnership for a large-scale deployment, with SoftBank C&S serving as strategic partner of ofo’s bike-sharing services in Japan. In addition, ofo and SoftBank C&S plan to launch initially in Tokyo and Osaka in September 2017.

Japan is an important market for ofo’s APAC expansion, with millions of locals adopting cycling across the country. ofo “looks forward to improving local transportation ecosystems and providing short-distance services that are well suited to the needs of Japanese cities and travelers,” a press release said.

“Launching in Japan is a huge milestone for ofo. In a country where there is a strong cycling culture, we strive to further improve the convenience and cost-effectiveness that cycling can bring to people in Japan,” said Lawrence Cao, head of ofo’s APAC business.

Commenting on the partnership, Cao said: “SoftBank has an impressive track record for technology innovation and capturing market trends. I envision great synergy between us and SoftBank C&S and I have confidence that this partnership will pave the way for ofo’s business growth and transformation, enabling us to better cater to our users’ needs in Japan.”

“We are delighted to work with ofo to offer an efficient and green transport solution that will generate superior convenience and contribute to environmental sustainability in Japan,” said Tetsuo Kuramitsu, Board Director of SoftBank C&S. “Leveraging our business engaged in the sale, distribution and manufacturing of ICT products, we aim to promote ofo’s bike-sharing business model and reinvent personal mobility in Japan.”

The collaboration will see the two organizations combine their strengths to provide Japanese consumers with a “more convenient, cost-effective and healthy transportation option that caters to Japanese lifestyles.” 

Published in Telecom Operators

German telecom giant Deutsche Telekom posted quarterly results showing core profits up 9 percent thanks to strength in the United States and modest increases in its home market. The company moved up its 2017 outlook for core profit to around €22.3 billion ($26.4) from a previous 22.2 €billion.

T-Mobile US, the third largest mobile operator in the United States, contributed to Deutsche Telekom’s rise in profits, as it maintains a 64 percent stake in the company. T-Mobile recently said it added over a million customers for the 17th quarter in a row, boosting confidence for Deutsche Telekom.

The US operator is reportedly seeking a merger with the fourth ranked mobile operator in the country, Sprint Corp., in a deal that could dramatically alter the US telecommunications market into three huge players, including AT&T and Verizon. However, Sprint’s majority owner, Japan’s SoftBank, is also considering a merger with cable communications provider Charter, Reuters recently reported.

T-Mobile’s possible tie-up with Sprint has seen Deutsche Telekom’s stock rise and fall, gaining up to 12 percent in May when the speculation began, but then tumbling down 4.4 percent in the year to date after no deal emerged. Overall, the company’s revenue increased to €18.89 billion, topping the high end of forecasts by 10 analysts polled by Reuters.

Published in Finance

Japan’s SoftBank announced that it has entered into a definitive agreement of investment in Energy IoT Platformer, ENCORED INC. (“Encored”). On August 1, the corporate name will change from ENCORED INC. to Encored Japan Inc. (“Encored Japan”). SoftBank will also invest in Encored USA.

Encored was established in January 2016 as a Japanese subsidiary of Encored, Inc (“Encored USA”). Encored USA is providing a platform service, “Enertalk”, which offers the analysis of real-time energy data with their IoT devices to about 100,000 households worldwide. SoftBank will acquire Encored's new shares through the third-party share issuance by the end of July. 

Encored Japan will provide the platform service based on their big data analysis and predictive technologies of the life pattern as well as energy usage data at home to enrich the daily life of people. Encored Japan will work together with their business partners to develop various services such as energy management assistance, diagnosis for energy efficiency of home appliances, and monitored security system for elderly person through their platform.

“I am pleased to work with Encored USA, which has excellent energy big data analysis and predictive technologies,” said Ken Miyauchi, president and CEO, SoftBank. “Their technologies are indispensable to providing new energy IoT services and they will create new value by fusing energy and Internet communication. I believe that the more our business partners adopt Encored Japan's platform service operated by their own AI technologies, the more SoftBank and Encored can promote various energy services in Japan and enrich people's lives.”

John Choe, CEO and founder of Encored USA, said: “Encored aims to provide useful and convenient services for various people's lifestyle based on our energy big data analysis. I believe that SoftBank is the best partner for entering not only Japan but also the global market. We will work hard to develop the best IoT platform service by combining Encored's energy big data technologies with SoftBank's various technologies."

Published in Internet of Things

Japan’s SoftBank Group Corp announced a subsidiary of SoftBank has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire robotics pioneer Boston Dynamics from Alphabet Inc (parent company of Google). The transaction aligns with SoftBank's investments in paradigm-shifting technologies and its vision of catalyzing the next wave of smart robotics. The terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

“Today, there are many issues we still cannot solve by ourselves with human capabilities. Smart robotics are going to be a key driver of the next stage of the Information Revolution, and Marc and his team at Boston Dynamics are the clear technology leaders in advanced dynamic robots,” said Masayoshi Son, Chairman & CEO of SoftBank Group Corp. “I am thrilled to welcome them to the SoftBank family and look forward to supporting them as they continue to advance the field of robotics and explore applications that can help make life easier, safer and more fulfilling.”

Marc Raibert, CEO and founder of Boston Dynamics, said, “We at Boston Dynamics are excited to be part of SoftBank's bold vision and its position creating the next technology revolution, and we share SoftBank's belief that advances in technology should be for the benefit of humanity. We look forward to working with SoftBank in our mission to push the boundaries of what advanced robots can do and to create useful applications in a smarter and more connected world.”

As part of the transaction with Alphabet, SoftBank has also agreed to acquire Japanese bipedal robotics company Schaft. Founded in 2012 in the JSK Robotics Laboratory at the University of Tokyo, the company has continued its pioneering work under the leadership of co-founders Yuto Nakanishi, Junichi Urata, Narito Suzuki and Koichi Nishiwaki.

The transaction is subject to customary closing conditions and regulatory approvals.

Published in Finance

The 5G race in Asia is underway, with the region’s powerhouses, Japan and South Korea, going head-to-head. Both countries have major international sports showcases coming up, giving local telcos the chance to flex their muscles. South Korean providers are working towards early deployment of 5G for the PyeongChang Winter Olympics in 2018; while Japanese providers have the opportunity to showcase full-fledged 5G at the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo.  

The Olympic Games have long played host to some of the world’s most innovative technology showcases. From the first electronic stopwatches at the Stockholm Olympics in 1912, to the live television broadcasts at the Berlin Olympics in 1936, and instant video replay at the Salt Lake City Olympics in 2002 – host cities strive to show the world what they’re made of. This time, the spotlight is on Japan and South Korea to showcase 5G technology.

Commercialization of 5G is not expected to start before 2020, as governments, companies and standardization groups negotiate and try to standardize norms between different countries for a smooth 5G transition. The timeline would appear to give Japan an advantage over South Korea to provide 5G for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. However, South Korea shows no sign of giving up on its 5G ambitions, as it aims to showcase pre-standard 5G for the Winter Olympic Games.

“The PyeongChang Winter Olympics will become the world’s first 5G Olympics utilizing the IoT [Internet of Things] and UHD. We are aiming to make use of the technology for the sake of people’s convenience and memory above anything else,” said Lee Hee-beom, president and CEO of the PyeongChang Organizing Committee for the 2018 Olympic and Paralympics Winter Games, in a recent interview with Business Korea.

“5G test networks are to be established in the venues, the Seoul Incheon International Airport, downtown in Seoul and so on,” Lee added. “The networks will provide extremely realistic media services and content based on hologram, virtual reality, etc.”

2018 Winter Olympics to provide immersive experiences’

South Korean mobile operator Korea Telecom (KT) says it wants to give spectators at the 2018 Winter Olympics what it hopes will be their first 5G experience, regardless of whether 5G has been commercially deployed. South Korea plans to use the Winter Olympics in February 2018 to test 5G on the hundreds of thousands of spectators, providing them with access to very high definition content or virtual reality.

KT chief executive Chang-Gyu Hwang has promised that 5G will bring “dramatic changes.” A KT spokesperson at Mobile World Congress this year said: “KT will introduce brand new services that have not ever been possible with the radio technologies of the current generations.”

The current 4G standard enables fast broadband access via smartphones, but governments and manufacturers foresee the next generation enabling connection speeds of up to 1,000 times faster than what’s currently available. Dexter Thillien, an analyst at IBM Research, says operators are “looking to 5G as a differentiator, especially in markets where LTE (4G) is ubiquitous” such as South Korea.

5G at the Winter Olympics in South Korea will be “pre-standards 5G” says Thillien. “The Olympic launch is more a marketing ploy to say they were the first.” The main obstacle the country faces when introducing 5G before standards have been finalized, is that the frequencies used might not, in the end, be used at a global level. “We know for example that the spectrum of frequencies that will be used in South Korea is not available in Europe, but will be in the United States,” says Thillien.

In June 2016, KT confirmed its intention to deploy 5G technology at the PyeongChang Winter Olympics. Speaking at Mobile World Congress Shanghai last year, Dongmyun Lee, EVP at KT, said some of the services to expect through 5G will include a drone equipped with a video camera. Lee said viewers will be able to experience the Games from the athlete’s point-of-view thanks to 5G.

A 5G proof of concept was completed by KT and NEC in April last year for 5G wireless backhaul solutions utilizing spectrum in the 70GHz and 80GHz bands. The trial was conducted at Phoenix Park Ski World in PyeongChang, using KT’s commercial mobile network infrastructure.

The operator has been collaborating with vendors such as ZTE and Ericsson for the development of 5G. The carrier currently offers LTE services using spectrum in the 900 MHz, 1800 MHz and 2.1 GHz bands, having initially launched LTE services in January 2012.

Most recently, at this year’s Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, KT’s chief executive presented the PyeongChang 5G Specifications based on a 5G End-to-End Network. This was the first time a perfect 5G mobile network interlocked with 5G terminals, base stations, and core devices was presented.

"5G End-to-End Network," jointly developed by KT and Samsung Electronics, is wirelessly connected to base stations and terminals and interlocked with core network equipment that act as the control tower. It performs all key functions, such as customer authentication, mobility, and linkage with external networks, required for providing customers with 5G services.

In addition, KT applied "5G distributed architecture" to the 5G End-to-End Network in order to improve the efficiency of the existing network architecture (4G, LTE), which handles all data traffic at the network center.

'5G distributed architecture' can virtualize core networks to handle data traffic and allocate them to any desired area. As data transmission starts at the nearest location to a customer, even high-capacity media which cannot be handled by 4G (LTE) networks can be transmitted smoothly with low latency.

KT predicts that '5G distributed architecture' could stably commercialize 5G-based services such as connected cars that deliver traffic information with low latency, remote medical service systems that require real-time control, and smart factories.

Chief Manager at KT Infra R&D Center, Hong Beom Jeon said: "KT will complete 5G trial service networks in the second half of the year based on the 5G End-to-End Network that contains core devices. We will provide spectators with entirely new 5G service experiences such as Sync View, 360° VR, and omni-view, etc.”

KT’s rival in South Korea, SK Telecom, says it will also offer immersive experiences at the 2018 Winter Olympics such as the possibility to see live holograms of the athletes as well as so-called omni-view camera angles through which viewers can choose to watch an event from multiple points-of-view. 

SK Telecom’s ‘5G White Paper’ says the Korean government has set up the Creative 5G Mobile Strategy, under which it presented SNS, mobile stereoscopic image, intelligent service, ultra-high-speed service and UHD/hologram as the five core services.

South Korea, China, Japan and the EU have started to establish a special organization to define the 5G concept and share views on 5G networks and the services around it. Initial discussions are ongoing, according to SK Telecom’s report, focused on innovation of mobile telecommunication technology to deliver Gigabit data rate and the potential 5G services that can reflect people’s lifestyles in 2020, the year the industry is aiming to commercialize the technology.

In an effort to meet the requirements of the evolution to 5G from in and out of the country, SK Telecom has conducted its own research on 5G networks from 2013 and is actively participating in global 5G discussions. One of the company’s most significant achievements was in February this year, when it announced it had successfully tested its 5G network on a connected car running at 170 kilometers per hour, reaching 3.6Gbps data transfer speeds, the highest for a 28GHz-based 5G pilot network.

SK Telecom worked with Ericsson and BMW to achieve the speed at the German vehicle manufacturer’s driving center in Incheon city, west of South Korea’s capital Seoul. The operator also announced plans with Ericsson and Qualcomm to conduct interoperability testing and over-the-air field trials based on 5G New Radio (NR) standards that are being developed in 3GPP.

The trials are intended to closely track and push to accelerate the first 3GPP 5G NR specification that will be part of Release 15. The companies say the trials will showcase new 5G NR technologies that use wide bandwidths in the higher frequency bands to increase network capacity and achieve multi-gigabit-per-second data rates. Such technologies are said to be critical in meeting the connectivity requirements for things like virtual reality, augmented reality and connected cloud services.

Commercial 5G deployment at 2020 Summer Olympics

Ericsson has also been working closely with Japanese telecoms corporation SoftBank to conduct 5G trials in Japan. Telecom operators in Japan are working aggressively to showcase commercial 5G in time for the Summer Olympics in 2020. Ericsson and SoftBank announced plans for a 28GHz trial in Tokyo that will involve indoor and outdoor environments, covering both device and mobility stationary tests.

SoftBank’s trial with Ericsson will use the vendor’s mmWave (millimeter wave) 28GHz 5G Test Bed solution, which includes base stations and device prototypes and will showcase advanced 5G technologies such as Massive-MIMO (multiple input, multiple output), Massive Beamforming, Distributed MIMO, Multiuser MIMO and Beam Tracking. Also part of the mix will be multi-gigabit data rates and ultra-low latency.

"SoftBank started to verify 4.5 GHz radio back in August 2016 and now 4.5 GHz is becoming the leading candidate band for 5G services in Japan together with 28 GHz,” says Hideyuki Tsukuda, senior vice president at SoftBank. “We are leveraging Ericsson's Test Bed with 28 GHz radio to validate a lot of advanced features at super low-latency and high throughput, which helps position us as a pioneer of 5G.”

Mikael Eriksson, head of Ericsson Japan, said he is “confident that we will be the first to deliver 5G services and that we will deliver the best performing end to end network in Japan.”

SoftBank is competing head-to-head with NTT DoCoMo, the predominant mobile phone operator in Japan. Last November, the operator announced it had completed a 5G trial with Samsung Electronics that achieved a data speed of more than 2.5Gbps with a mobile device that was in a vehicle traveling 150 km/h, which proved the feasibility of connectivity for 5G devices in fast moving trains. The transmissions were conducted using the 28GHz band.

In early May this year, NTT DoCoMo announced its new medium-term 5G strategy for implementation through the 2020 fiscal year, effective immediately. The plan focuses on six declarations that DoCoMo will act upon to realize a more innovative business structure in the coming era of 5G.

The underlying objectives of the "Declaration beyond" plan are 1) to “exceed the expectations of customers and help them connect with their aspirations via exciting and unexpected services” and 2) to “create all-new value propositions in collaboration with business partners as DOCOMO challenges new frontiers with an eye to 2020 and beyond.”

Despite the major advances made in the design and evolution of 4G cellular networks in Japan, NTT DoCoMo says new market trends are “imposing unprecedentedly challenging requirements” which are driving the company to the “necessity of a 5G mobile network.”

The high-level targets of the company’s 5G strategy, according to the ‘DOCOMO 5G White Paper’, include higher system capacity, reduced latency, higher data rate, massive device connectivity (IoT), as well as energy saving and cost reduction.

Japan’s mobile operators are working tirelessly to develop 5G wireless technology to cater for an estimated half a million visitors to the 2020 Summer Olympic Games. Estimations suggest that this could increase network capacity from anywhere between 100 to 1000 fold.

“The Olympic Games is a sports festival, but also it’s a chance to show the innovation of scientific technologies,” said Tokyo’s organizing committee CEO Toshiro Muto. “We have the potential to make this Olympic Games wonderful [and one] that the people of the world are going to admire.”

Published in Featured
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