Business / Tech

NTT Docomo to begin 5G trial services on Friday at Rugby World Cup venues and stores

JIJI

Mobile phone carrier NTT Docomo Inc. said Wednesday that it would begin on Friday a trial service allowing people in Tokyo and other major cities, including Nagoya and Osaka, to experience using fifth-generation, or 5G, communications networks, ahead of its full commercial 5G rollout next spring.

The experimental next-generation network service will be available at competition venues for the Rugby World Cup, which kicks off the same day, and other locations, the company said.

“We are marking Friday as the day we begin our full-fledged 5G services,” said NTT Docomo President Kazuhiro Yoshizawa.

The trial service at Tokyo Stadium in Chofu, Tokyo, will use the base station setup and frequency band that will be used for the planned full commercial service. The stadium is to host the first match of the tournament, in which Japan is set to face off against Russia.

Three types of special smartphone devices compatible with the 5G network will be available, enabling users to view the game from multiple perspectives.

The transmission speed of the 5G network is said to be up to 100 times faster than that of the current 4G communications network, allowing users to enjoy the high-speed content that will be streamed to the special devices.

The trial service will also be available at four NTT Docomo stores across Tokyo, Nagoya and Osaka.

Other services are also planned to be rolled out this year, including trial services at music events. Another example is remote golf lessons, offered by professional coaches and using artificial intelligence to analyze footage — taken with 5G-compatible smartphones — of users’ swings.

NTT Docomo and two other major mobile carriers — SoftBank Corp. and KDDI Corp. — aim to begin commercial 5G services next spring. The need for large numbers of base stations has posed an obstacle to reaching that goal, however, as the 5G signals from each base station cover only a small area.

To combat the issue, NTT Docomo announced on Wednesday plans to speed up the establishment of 5G bases in all 47 prefectures, aiming to complete the task by the end of June 2020. The carrier also said it plans to set up a total of 10,000 bases by spring 2021.