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Welcome to the world’s first open vRAN nation, this is Japan!

April 2021

LightCounting releases its Japan Wireless Infrastructure Update Report

LightCounting’s latest report provides an update on 5G developments in Japan, including macroeconomics, geopolitics, and technology. After a slow 2020 marked by a pandemic that compounded a looming recession, 2021 is looking up; the Japanese government expects a swift economic recovery accompanied with incentives to accelerate 5G rollouts.

“As a result of the Japanese government’s 2018 decision to introduce a fourth mobile player to stimulate competition and lower the price of mobile communications in a dormant saturated market, Rakuten Mobile started to build the world’s first large scale open vRAN network and now, the 3 incumbent communications service providers (e.g., NTT DOCOMO, KDDI and Softbank) are embracing the novel disruptive RAN technology with big rollout plans,” said Stéphane Téral, Chief Analyst at LightCounting Market Research.

Our major findings in the report are:

- Economic data released by Bank of Japan in January 2021 suggests the nation was already entering a recession in 2H19. Then, the emergence, the rapid spread, and the persistence of COVID-19 throughout 2020 accelerated the real GDP decline.

- In 2020, Rakuten Mobile drove 4G rollouts while 5G ended below plan and influenced by the U.S., Japan’s government adopted the open RAN agenda

- Fujitsu gained market shares, Samsung is showing a strong momentum

- Japan’s new economic recovery and 5G rollout directives will drive a RAN market surge in 2021, which will also be marked by substantial open vRAN testing activity

- Large scale commercial open vRAN deployments are expected to start in 2022

About the report:

LightCounting’s Japan Wireless Infrastructure FY20 Report focuses on Japan’s mobile market and analyzes the implications of the introduction of Rakuten Mobile and the Japanese government’s open RAN push. The publication date is scheduled a few weeks after the 4 services providers (e.g., KDDI, NTT DOCOMO, Rakuten Mobile, and Softbank) provide their interim report so that we can gather many details about 1H21 and provide a 2H21 outlook, a 5-year RAN forecast, and a 3-year capex outlook. This report also includes subscriber and base station (BTS) numbers and RAN vendor market shares and analysis.

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