Softbank, the Japanese operator, has announced that it will offer 5G commercial services from March 27 and will launch four 5G handsets,media reported. This is the first commercial 5G service in Japan. SoftBank will launch 5G services in a few regions and expand to major cities such as Tokyo, Osaka and Nagoya, NHK reported.
NTT DoCoMo and KDDI, Japan’s two largest operators, have yet to announce their 5G schedules, but both are expected to start offering services as early as this month.
SoftBank’s 5G service will be available as an add-on to its existing package plan, with an additional 1,000 yen ($9.35) a month, Bloomberg reported. Users who sign up before August 31 will be able to use this additional service for free for two years. SoftBank is currently selling its 50GB 4G network service package for 6,500 yen.
SoftBank’s announcement comes just days after Rakuten Mobile, Japan’s new telecoms operator, unveiled its much-anticipated 4G service, which costs about half the price of its existing package in the Japanese market.
Rakuten Mobile, japan’s largest e-commerce and online retail company, has gained 2.3 million customers on its virtual operator, THE MVNO network. The company is preparing to launch a 5G service in June.
Marc Einstein, chief telecoms and digital services analyst at ITR Corp Japan, points out that SoftBank’s upcoming 5G handset brands (LG, ZTE, Sharp and OPPO) are not the biggest brands in the Japanese market. “When the iPhone comes out, it’s more interesting to see what they’re going to do. “
He added that the current data limit would not last long because 5G transmission speeds were between 500Mbit/s and 1Gbit/s. “We need to look at the next generation’s plans at some point. “
Rakuten plans to invest $5.5 billion and then get 15 million subscribers by 2028, he said.
Einstein is also cautious about Rakuten’s virtualized network model, which Rakuten claims will reduce operator costs by as much as 50-60 percent.
“I’m not sure all of these network features are ready for automation. Consumer feedback on network service quality, customer service, etc. will determine their fate. They need to act as soon as possible, because the Big Three will provide 5G services before them. “
Market leader NTT DoCoMo has said it will launch a 5G video streaming service this month. KDDI has also said it will offer its first 5G service in March, without providing any details.
Last year, under pressure from the government, NTT DoCoMo lowered service prices, but did not attract too many new users.
Einstein predicts that NTT DoCoMo is aiming to move to a new pricing structure, even as competitors rush to cut fees. “I think they’re going to try to avoid a pure price war, but they’re going to increase the amount of data traffic, maybe even inunlimited.” “