Japanese mobile carriers testing ultrafast 5G tech

Japan’s top three mobile phone carriers have begun trials of fifth-generation, or 5G, high-speed wireless communication technology, hoping to launch new services using the technology by as early as 2020.

The cutting-edge technology will likely be able to send 10 times more data per second than the current 4G technology and shorten the time needed for data transmission to a tenth of the present level, supporting high-definition imaging and internet-connected appliances and services.

The 5G technology will allow a two-hour film to be downloaded to a smartphone in only several minutes, said an official of NTT Docomo, one of the top three carriers.

Last month, KDDI demonstrated to the media the use of the 5G technology for virtual reality imaging linked to vehicle movements.

NTT Docomo has conducted a trial streaming of 4K ultrahigh-definition landscape images from an observation deck of Tokyo Skytree on a screen set up in the first floor area of the 634-meter-tall tower.

SoftBank Group plans to test the 5G technology for automated driving. In the experiment, data on a truck driver’s steering and pedal motions will be transmitted to driverless vehicles following in a convoy.

High-speed data transmission with the 5G technology is essential for such convoys because a lag could lead to an accident, SoftBank officials said.

The technology is also seen aiding the remote control of construction machines. NTT Docomo and KDDI plan to test 5G-based remote control of construction machines by teaming up with construction machinery maker Komatsu and general contractor Obayashi.

A frequency band for 5G communications is expected to be decided at an international conference in 2019.

The current 4G technology went into practical use in 2012, promoting the spread of smartphones.

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