SoftBank Corp.’s fifth-generation wireless service in Japan is living up to the hype in at least one respect — internet speeds that are blazingly fast even by the standards of one of the most connected countries in the world.
The carrier’s month-old 5G network topped out at 1.1 gigabits per second for downloads and about 30 megabits for uploads in tests carried out by Bloomberg News in Tokyo. Speeds of this kind, far surpassing typical wired broadband connections, have previously been possible only by pushing a fiber optic cable directly into a user’s home. But there are significant pieces still missing and preventing mass adoption: Coverage is severely limited for now, there’s little in the way of appealing content to capitalize on all that extra bandwidth and mobile data plans have yet to be revised to account for the much-increased consumption that 5G portends.
SoftBank and local rivals KDDI Corp. and NTT Docomo Inc. all launched their 5G offerings in late March in a handful of metropolitan areas around the country, while newcomer Rakuten Inc. has targeted June for launch. The Japanese telecommunication giants and their counterparts in South Korea and China have pressed ahead with deployment of next-generation networks despite global coronavirus woes. But 5G services touting high speeds and low latency are still out of reach for the majority of people eager for bandwidth to stream movies and telework as they shelter at home.