Two Japanese telecommunications providers, SoftBank and KDDI, have drawn up a plan to invest a total of $38 billion in fifth-generation wireless networks in Japan over the next 10 years. The country is seeking to close the gap between itself and its neighbors, China and South Korea, who have taken the lead in rolling out this ultra-fast technology.
The 5G technology is expected to provide a large-scale boost to the country’s economy, benefiting a variety of industries, from Internet services to the automotive industry.
Currently, 5G coverage across Japan remains very limited, mainly focused on Tokyo and other major population centers. Both operators plan to invest $19 billion each. For Japan’s 5G network, SoftBank plans to build 350,00 base stations nationwide, of which 50,000 are expected to be completed by March of 2022, and 200,000 more by 2025. Meanwhile, KDDI, which currently has less than 10,000 base stations, plans to increase this number to 50,000 by March 2022.
At present, the Japanese telecoms providers are being pressured by the government to cut the prices of their mobile plans, which are some of the highest in the world. Thus, in order to further encourage 5G adoption, SoftBank has announced that it will reduce the fee for the monthly 5G core service for the first two years. According to SoftBank, by reducing barriers to entry, more people will be able to enjoy the attractiveness of the company’s 5G services.
In addition, the other two major Japanese mobile operators, NTT Docomo and Rakuten, are also expected to expand their 5G station coverage. As Japanese telecom providers seek to accelerate the uptake in Japan and increase investment in Japanese 5G technology beyond its borders, the country may move to develop 5G capabilities that compete with those of their neighbor, South Korea.