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NTT Docomo's 5G program reaches over 2,700 partners ahead of 2020 rollout

Japanese telco NTT Docomo Inc. has grown the number of partners in its DOCOMO 5G Open Partner Program to over 2,700 as the company prepares to launch commercial 5G services next year.

The program, which launched in 2018, provides global businesses and organizations with the latest 5G information, test environments and workshops.

Partners will also be able to connect devices and services free-of-charge to NTT Docomo lab's 5G base and mobile stations. Nokia Corp. is supplying NTT's 5G network equipment.

"Cross-industry collaboration is key to a successful rollout of 5G in Asia," NTT Docomo Technology President and Chief Technology Architect Seizo Onoe said June 18 at the ConnecTechAsia 2019 Summit in Singapore.

5G use cases in Japan include the remote control of construction equipment, and enabling doctors to receive advice remotely from medical universities and clinics.

Onoe stressed the importance of collaborating with Japan-based and international technology companies in order to strengthen the 5G ecosystem in the region and ensure that it is ready for the technology's multiple applications.

In March, NTT Docomo agreed to collaborate with enterprises and organizations in the U.S. and Israel on trials related to 5G mobile test networks established in Guam, where the company launched its first center for verifying 5G solutions outside of Japan, called DOCOMO 5G Open Lab.

Japan's telecom ministry recently awarded 5G spectrum to NTT Docomo, and rivals KDDI Corp., SoftBank Corp. and SoftBank Corp., as well as e-commerce and internet company Rakuten Inc.

The four companies are reportedly estimated to spend US$15.29 billion cumulatively over five years on building their 5G networks.

According to Onoe's presentation at the summit, NTT Docomo, KDDI, SoftBank and Rakuten's capital expenditure for their 5G deployment has been approximately ¥795 billion, ¥466.7 billion, ¥206.1 billion and ¥194.6 billion, respectively.

The Nippon Telegraph and Telephone Corp. unit's pre-commercial 5G launch is scheduled for September.