Entries in NTT DoCoMo (5)
The 5G genie has finally escaped from the bottle. After the first day of MWC I wrote this piece about the relatively restrained advocacy for 5G radio access technologies. For the record, among the big four vendors, only two actually have a candidate technology: Alcatel-Lucent's UF-OFDM and Huawei's SCMA/F-OFDM combo. Ericsson and Nokia are weighing their options.
Within hours a proliferation of groups emerged to stake out their 5G territory (no, I'm not suggesting a causal connection). Heavy Reading analyst Gabriel Brown points out the emergence of these different interests is no bad thing:
“It's good if you're an operator or a vendor to have done work before you go into standardisation because then you come armed with something useful to contribute,” Brown says. “The standardisation progress will go better if there has been proprietary work.”
The 5G process will take up a lot of industry air time over the next five years. It's a tight timetable. NTT DoCoMo wants a commercial-ready network for the 2020 Olympics and the Koreans are keen to have at least a demo system for the 2018 Winter Games.
But Takehiro Nakamura, MD of the NTT DoCoMo 5G Lab, worries that countries outside northeast Asia don't have the same sense of urgency. They have “a very relaxed schedule – 2021, 2023 even as late as 2025.”
Plus he thinks the lack of a rival technology might itself be a hindrance. “Competitiveness is important to promote systems development and system enhancement,” he said, citing 3GPP vs. 3GPP2 and LTE vs. Wimax. “Thanks to that competition, we developed our new system very quickly. Everybody could focus on the same direction.”
That said, there is, following the stunning success of LTE, a widely-expressed sentiment that the industry get to agreement on 5G.
But with aspirations to support a thousand-fold increase in both throughput and the number of connections, and to accommodate low-latency, low-demand connecitivity IoT as well as high-speed millimetre wave while also integrating LTE and Wi-Fi, 5G is not short on ambition.
In his first public presentation, new NTT DoCoMo president Kaoru Kato unveiled a new slogan – 'Speed and Challenge'.
Fortunately, his new cloud-based apps are a lot more attention-grabbing.
DoCoMo was probably the earliest advocate of the mobile cloud, seeing it as a natural way to leverage LTE's speed and low latency. And avoid the dreaded dumb pipe.
It's rolling out services in the personal, business and network categories. But as Kato – who was appointed president just two days ago - explains it, the real action is in the network cloud.
“The network cloud enables smart services with the functionality in the cloud,” he said. It takes advantage of high-speed LTE to deliver processing power that would overwhelm even the smartest device.
He showed a demo of a voice translation service that enables speakers of foreign languages to be able to carry out a phone conversation with near real-time translation. Offered in ten languages, that will be launched in Q4.
Kato also showed off a smart voice agent – basically a cloud-based Siri - that lets users drive their phone apps with voice commands, like “what's the weather in Osaka today?” or “send an email to Hiroshi”, and has a voice-to-text function that can also write the email or text. That was launched on March 1.