Business / Tech

Japan begins accepting applications for local 5G service licenses

Kyodo, Staff Report

The government Tuesday began accepting applications for licenses to operate local 5G services — next-generation ultrafast communications networks to be used only in limited sites such as factories and farmland.

Telecommunications giants such as NTT Docomo Inc. will start their 5G services from next spring, delivering data transmission speeds around 100 times faster than current 4G networks, but their service areas are initially expected to cover mostly large cities.

By allowing local governments and firms to build their own networks in rural areas, where the construction of base stations by major telecom carriers will be delayed, the central government expects regional businesses to quickly start utilizing 5G networks.

Other than mobile phone services, local 5G networks can be utilized to remotely operate machines, cameras and drones at such sites as farmland and factories. For example, municipalities are expected to use 5G services to monitor river water levels in real time. Also, local 5G networks can be more secure, as data transmission is limited to the service space.

Local 5G networks will be assigned different frequencies from those of mobile carriers such as NTT Docomo.

Applications for the licenses will be accepted at 11 regional branches of the Internal Affairs and Communications Ministry and it is expected to take about 1½ months to review them, according to the ministry.

In the Kanto region, the Tokyo Metropolitan Government, NEC Corp., Fujitsu Ltd.,and cable television service provider Jupiter Telecommunications Co. submitted applications Tuesday.

The metropolitan government plans to create test facilities to help small firms and startups in Tokyo launch businesses using 5G networks, while NTT East Corp. will aim to use the services for its esports business.

NEC said last week that it aims to provide 5G-related products and services to 100 or more companies and organizations by fiscal 2023. The firm also said it will create local 5G networks at its factories starting next fiscal year.

The ministry is planning to expand radio wave frequencies available for local 5G networks in 2020 so that more companies can use the networks.

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