NTT Docomo, KDDI, Softbank and Rakuten deploy 5G mmWave

NTT Docomo, KDDI, Softbank and Rakuten, four telecom network operators in Japan, have deployed more than 20,000 5G mmWave gNodeBs (millimeter wave).
5G mmWave speed in JapanTelecoms have deployed mmWave in several hot zones in Tokyo, for example, targeting congested areas to support high data traffic.

Some of the hot spots included Harajuku, Shinjuku, and the Tokyo train station. Customers are receiving 5G mmWave on smartphones in various locations, both outdoors and indoors.

Japanese consumers are able to purchase mmWave smartphones from Samsung, Sony, Sharp, Fujitsu, and Google. “In the next few months, we expect more OEMs to launch mmWave smartphones in Japan, including those in lower tiers. I had the pleasure of trying out the Samsung Galaxy S22, and testing the mmWave experience around Tokyo,” Junko Sunaga, President of Qualcomm Japan, said in a blog post.

Qualcomm’s team ran some basic speed tests to check 5G mmWave performance on some of Harajuku and Shinjuku’s commercial networks. The performance difference compared to a non-mmWave (sub-6 GHz) premium smartphone was particularly notable – and impressive.

Qualcomm’s team has experienced more than 2 Gbps download speeds, and more than 300 Mbps upload speeds. Typically, this was over six times (download) and five times (upload) faster than a premium non-mmWave smartphone at the same location on the same network.

“On our 5G mmWave Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra, we were able to upload a 55 MB video to TikTok in less than two seconds,” Junko Sunaga said.

NTT Docomo, KDDI, Softbank and Rakuten are able to offer high-speed 5G thanks to massive capacity enabled by 400 MHz of mmWave spectrum (band n257). For dense urban and suburban areas common in Japan, such capacity expansion with mmWave deployed in the right locations can help improve user experience in congested areas such as train stations used by daily commuters and shopping areas, both indoor and outdoor.

NTT Docomo, KDDI, Softbank and Rakuten are planning to roll out mmWave-sub6 dual connectivity (NR-DC) across the country this summer to achieve a consistent quality of experience. Carriers aim to take advantage of sub-6 GHz bands (mid-band) for wide-area macro deployments and augment the network with mmWave capacity in congested areas even more.

Dell’Oro Group in an April 2022 report said 5G NR mmWave revenue to mobile network suppliers have increased 15-20 percent in 2021, propelling 5G NR mmWave to account for 1-2 percent of total sub 6 GHz plus mmWave RAN revenues.

Ericsson leads the mmWave RAN market.

The mismatch between Capex and data consumption when comparing the sub-6 GHz and mmWave spectrum will evolve gradually and global 5G NR mmWave revenues are projected to reach $1 billion to $2 billion by 2026. Mobile remains the primary focus, however, gNB and repeater technology advancements are expected to improve the FWA business case.