FRANKFURT (Reuters) – Finland’s Nokia said on Friday it signed its first major deal to supply new 5G wireless radio base stations to Japanese telecom operator NTT DoCoMo, which boasts nearly half of the country’s mobile subscribers.
The contract marks Nokia’s first sizeable deal for its flagship mobile base station equipment based on official global New Radio (NR) standards for the fifth generation of wireless networks, which were only finalised in December 2017.
Financial terms were not disclosed.
The deal contemplates DoCoMo starting commercial 5G network service by 2020, in time for the Tokyo Olympics, Nokia said. Initial installations are expected in greater metropolitan Tokyo with a national roll-out to follow in subsequent years.
Nokia, a major supplier to DoCoMo in both the 3G and 4G network eras, has been working with the Japanese operator since at least 2014 on trials of 5G equipment, which promises far faster data rates, greater capacity and quicker response times.
The 5G antennas and related base stations act as the local connections between users of mobile phones and computing devices with the backbone of any operator’s network.
The new equipment also promises to enable DoCoMo to provide new services for autonomous driving, industrial automation and smarter homes by providing wireless links to millions even billions of wireless sensors. Nokia said it will work with DoCoMo to ensure a smooth transition from existing 4G networks.
Reporting by Eric Auchard; Editing by Christoph Steitz