DoCoMo picks Nokia for base station upgrade to 5G

Alan Burkitt-Gray
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Nokia to install 5G New Radio kit on NTT DoCoMo’s 4G base stations ready for 2020 launch

Japanese mobile operator NTT DoCoMo has taken the next step to launch commercial 5G services in 2020 by planning a technology upgrade from its 4G network.

The company has gone to Nokia to upgrade its existing base station baseband units to provide 5G hardware ready for the launch.

DoCoMo CTO Hiroshi Nakamura, said: “With this agreement with Nokia, we are now proceeding to the next step to launch 5G mobile services by 2020, and accelerate co-creation of new services and businesses with vertical industry partners.”

Nokia said it will supply its 5G New Radio equipment, which is compliant with the 3GPP mobile standards body. It will integrate the 5G kit into existing AirScale equipment in DoCoMo’s network

Nokia says it “has enjoyed a long-term working relationship with Japan’s largest operator that has produced supply agreements for 3G and 4G/LTE networking technology”.

DoCoMo has been working with other vendors on 5G technology, including Huawei and Ericsson. At the end of 2018 Nakamura too part in a Huawei mobile broadband conference, where he described the Chinese vendor as “one of the most important partners we’re working with”.

Two weeks ago DoCoMo announced autonomous vehicle trials with Ericsson, Qualcomm and a number of automotive companies.

“We have been collaborating with partners such as Nokia on various 5G technology and use case trials since 2014,” said Nakamura about the Nokia announcement.

Marc Rouanne, president of mobile networks at Nokia, said the deal was “a major milestone in bringing 5G to commercial reality, especially in a country with a long and proud history of technological achievements and early technology adoption”.

He added: “Together we have worked hard in recent months to commence preparations for NTT DoCoMo’s eventual launch of its operational 5G service by 2020, which we have now set in motion by this very exciting announcement today.”