The communications ministry plans to launch as early as this fiscal year a new system to allow the airwaves for live television broadcasts to be also used for 5G ultrahigh-speed mobile communications, informed sources said Monday.
Through the new system, the ministry aims to expand frequency bands available to mobile phone carriers, in a bid to prepare for the anticipated spread of 5G communications.
The airwaves for live broadcasts of sports matches, disasters and other events are not used on a regular basis, while they can be technically used for 5G communications, as well as currently mainstream 4G services.
A revision to the radio law in April last year allowed the airwaves to be also used for purposes other than live television broadcasts.
On Saturday, the ministry started collecting opinions on a ministerial ordinance amendment under the revised law.
The ministry plans to allow mobile phone carriers to use the airwaves during hours where there are no live broadcasts.
After working out details of the new system, the ministry will start accepting applications from businesses wanting to use the airwaves.
While major mobile carriers are expected to submit applications, the ministry is likely to accept those from only one or two companies, sources familiar with the matter said.
In Japan, full-fledged 5G services were started in March last year. As of the end of this March, the number of subscriptions to 5G services totaled 14.19 million.
Although the figure is significantly smaller than the 154.37 million subscriptions to 4G services, 5G networks are expected to replace 4G networks at a rapid pace. Therefore, the need to secure more frequencies for 5G communications is increasing.
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