Out in Front

Japan facing challenges in deploying mmWave networks, says DIGITIMES Research

Hana Hu, DIGITIMES Research, Taipei 0


Based on DIGITIMES Research's studies on Japan's 5G network rollout and applications across different frequency bands, the deployment of mmWave remains challenging and its population coverage is extremely low.

Private 5G networks also face difficulty in expanding their presence in the mmWave frequency bands as Japanese enterprises that have obtained permission to establish private 5G networks are primarily focusing on sub-6GHz frequency bands, while only less than 10% decided to build one at mmWave ones.

To address problems such as high deployment costs and lack of killer applications, the local government and enterprises continue to leverage new technologies and regulations to make the mmWave band more accessible to accelerate its popularization.

Japan's 5G base station deployment is mainly focusing on mid-to-low frequency bands including 700MHz, 1.7GHz, and 3.5GHz which were also used for 4G, to have the largest population coverage. To encourage Japanese telecom operators to use the mmWave bands, Japan's Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications (MIC) plans to ease the coverage requirements on the 40GHz and 26GHz mmWave frequencies that are set to be released at the end of 2025, and will center its evaluations on new spectrum distribution over the economic values instead of a wide-range coverage, the studies show.

As of November 2022, among the 126 Japanese enterprises that had obtained approval to build private 5G networks, 20 were cable TV companies, a rather high share to show the importance of private 5G networks to cable TV companies.

Cable TV companies expect private 5G networks to be indispensable for pushing growth in the cable TV business. Among the 20 that have obtained approval to build private 5G networks, eight applied for mmWave frequency bands, which they will use to provide trial and validation services to public sectors and for community revitalization. The mmWave networks will be used to build communication systems in disaster-stricken areas and to deliver high-definition images. Cable TV companies are expected to become a driving force for mmWave applications in Japan.