Japanese operator NTT DoCoMo picked Nokia’s 5G New Radio (NR) gear to use in its 5G network, which the operator plans to have commercially available by 2020. Tokyo is the host city for the 2020 Summer Olympics and DoCoMo has targeted its 5G launch to coincide with that high-profile event.
The win is a big one for Nokia because it’s the first 3GPP-standards compliant 5G NR equipment deal that’s been announced. Verizon announced earlier this year that it will use Ericsson and Samsung gear for its forthcoming 5G network, but that equipment is pre-standard gear. AT&T has said it will have several 5G markets up-and-running this year but has not revealed any of its vendors.
As part of the deal, Nokia said that it will provide 5G baseband units (BBUs) and its AirScale hardware to DoCoMo. The Japanese operator will use the 5G BBUs to decentralize the management of the remote radio heads in the network. DoCoMo has already migrated to a cloud-RAN architecture in advance of its 5G deployment.
The two companies have been jointly testing 5G technology since 2014, and Nokia has supplied equipment to DoCoMo for the company’s 3G and 4G LTE networks. In a statement, Hiroshi Nakamura, EVP and CTO of NTT DoCoMo, said that the two companies will launch mobile 5G services in 2020, and also work on new services with different vertical industry partners.
Nokia first debuted its AirScale base station at the 2016 Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. The company touted AirScale’s compatibility with new 5G spectrum bands as well as its backwards compatibility with 4G LTE. U.S. Cellular and Orange have both said that they are trialing the AirScale platform to test 5G.
NTT DoCoMo has been trialing 5G with other vendors as well. The company in December said that in a trial with Huawei it had managed to achieve multi-gigabit speeds at a distance of more than one mile using 5G technology in millimeter wave (mmWave) spectrum.