Business / Corporate

SoftBank and KDDI to conduct joint study on 5G wireless network installation

Kyodo

Major mobile phone service operators SoftBank Corp. and KDDI Corp. said Wednesday they will look into teaming up on the wireless networks for their 5G services, in a bid to cut costs and speed up installation.

The two companies will study how and where they will be able to share equipment for the next-generation network services among other options, a SoftBank spokesman said, with Japanese mobile carriers preparing to begin trial services this fall ahead of the official launch of their 5G offerings next year.

KDDI, the nation’s second-largest mobile carrier by subscribers, plans to install more than 42,000 relay devices for the fifth-generation services and SoftBank, the country’s No. 3 mobile operator, will deploy over 11,000 across the nation, according to plans submitted to the communications ministry in April.

The next-generation services can send and receive data around 100 times faster than current 4G technology, but costs remain a major challenge. 5G networks require more relay spots, as they employ short-length radio waves that cannot pass through buildings.

The government, for its part, will offer access to 208,000 traffic signals across the country for the installation of necessary equipment.

SoftBank said in April it will jointly deploy airborne mobile phone base stations for next-generation wireless services with Google LLC parent Alphabet Inc.

NTT Docomo and Rakuten, which will enter the mobile phone market with its own network for the first time in October, are not participating in the joint study, but SoftBank and KDDI would not exclude them if they are interested, the SoftBank spokesman said.