Japan lays more groundwork for a 5G Tokyo Olympics

Japan is keeping the 5G Olympics train on the tracks, as it were, working with Huawei, NTT DoCoMo and Tobu Railway to trial a 5G millimeter wave system for dense urban areas ahead of the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.

The effort took place at Tokyo Skytree Town, the commercial center in the Sumida District of Tokyo that is the home of the iconic 634-meter high television broadcasting tower and landmark. Around the base of Skytree lies Tokyo Solamachi, a shopping and entertainment complex with over 300 shops and restaurants.

The trial focused on delivering consistent 5G system performance for enhanced mobile broadband (eMBB) applications within the complex, and was used to research radio propagation characteristics and other technical conditions for the 28 GHz band and other candidate spectrum within congested environments.

The effort is part of Japan’s stated push to have 5G ready for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games, and was conducted under the auspices of Japan’s Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications (MIC) division. The MIC and its commercial partners will continue to evaluate 5G data transmission and system performance required for video communication services leading up to the Games, using Tokyo’s Odaiba waterfront area and the Tokyo Skytree Town location to evaluate a number of different scenarios.

This latest collaboration was a follow-up to a previous trial: In December, Huawei and NTT DoCoMo were able to demonstrate 5G long-distance and high-speed data transmission between Tokyo SkyTree and a shopping center at Tobu’s Asakusa Station, where it evaluated 5G system performance when creating immersive video communications using Microsoft HoloLens.

Huawei and NTT DoCoMo also recently completed a joint field trial for long-distance 5G mobile communications in the 39 GHz millimeter wave band, in Yokohama, Japan. They achieved more than 2Gbps downlink on a test vehicle.

The efforts come on the heels of a similar 5G push rolled out for the Winter Games in PyeongChang, South Korea. Korea Telecom, Intel, Samsung, Ericsson and others put together what is to date the world’s largest and most visible test of 5G network technology, rolling out last June. KT spearheaded the prestandard 5G network, which ran in 28 GHz. The company used only line-of-site connections for communications in the millimeter wave spectrum.

At Mobile World Congress last month, the companies gave an update on the fruits of their labors, saying that the system—comprising 22 5G links at 10 different sites—successfully delivered 3,800 terabytes of data during the two-week event.

“It’s one of the most broad-scale test beds you can have,” explained Intel’s Aicha Evans during a company media event. “We learned a lot.”