NEC and NTT DoCoMo reach 5G deal

The deal with NTT DoCoMo will see NEC supply 5G base station control units, as well as providing software upgrades to existing 4G base stations to make them compatible with the new network.

NEC Corporation has announced reaching a 5G equipment supply deal with NTT DoCoMo, with the Japanese telecommunications carrier planning to launch its new mobile network in 2020.

Under the deal, NEC will provide control units for 5G base stations as well as using software upgrades to ensure NTT DoCoMo's existing base stations and telco equipment are compatible with 5G.

"Currently, high-density base station equipment that NEC began providing in February 2015 is already compatible with the advanced Centralised Radio Access Network (C-RAN) architecture advocated by DoCoMo, and is now being utilised as a base station control unit," NEC said.

"Moreover, following a software upgrade, an advance in communications from LTE to LTE-Advanced has been achieved."

NTT DoCoMo CTO Hiroshi Nakamura lauded the efficient rollout of 5G services by using existing telecommunications equipment.

"This agreement with NEC is in line with that policy, and we expect it to make a significant contribution to our 5G services. Going forward, DoCoMo accelerates co-creation of new services and businesses with vertical industry partners," Nakamura said.

According to NEC executive vice president Atsuo Kawamura, the company will also provide NTT DoCoMo with "remote diagnosis and advanced security that combine 5G with the latest ICT".

"Through these initiatives, NEC will continue strengthening our partnership with DoCoMo and contributing to the realisation of 5G services," Kawamura said.

NEC had in February used Mobile World Congress (MWC) 2018 to announce that it would be undertaking verification experiments alongside NTT DoCoMo on 5G wireless technologies at the Yokosuka Research Park and NEC's Tamagawa Plant.

At the time, NEC said this would involve coordinated control between distribution units (DUs) by using its low super-high frequency band -- between 3GHz and 6GHz -- massive-element active antenna system (AAS) base station system.

Used along with a C-RAN configuration, this allows a central unit (CU) to control several DUs.

"The CU exchanges information on terminals connected to different DUs between multiple DUs. DUs then form directional signals (beams) while performing coordination control between DUs," NEC explained.

"This greatly improves the throughput of terminals located near the boundary of DUs' communication ranges (cells) when compared to conventional throughput and achieves stable, high-quality communication regardless of location."

With 5G enabling more densely arranged cells, radio wave interference between DUs will be an issue causing reduced download speeds, NEC said in February. The experiments with NTT DoCoMo tested the improvements of this throughout suburbs and city centres.

"NEC is committed to contributing to the successful rollout of 5G in the near future, including these verification trials using the massive-element AAS base station system," NEC Wireless Network Development Division deputy GM Kenichi Ito said at the time.

"We aim to continue driving the advancement of high-speed, large capacity communications and sophisticated service functions that contribute to services provided by telecommunications carriers."

Following the standardisation of 5G NR specs in December, both NEC Corporation and NTT DoCoMo had announced the beginning of the full-scale development of 5G NR including large-scale trials and commercial deployment, along with Huawei, Ericsson, Intel, Nokia, Samsung, AT&T, BT, China Mobile, China Telecom, China Unicom, Deutsche Telekom, Fujitsu, KT Corporation, LG Electronics, LG Uplus, MediaTek, Orange, Qualcomm, SK Telecom, Sony Mobile Communications, Sprint, TIM, Telefonica, Telia Company, T-Mobile USA, Verizon, Vodafone, and ZTE.

NTT DoCoMo has also been involved in testing 5G with Ericsson.

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