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Sumitomo to Spearhead Shared Mobile Base Stations for Japan’s Major Telecom Players

Japan
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In a strategic move set to transform Japan’s telecommunications landscape, Sumitomo Corp. is embarking on a nationwide deployment of shared mobile base stations. Collaborating with major telecom players, including NTT Docomo, KDDI, SoftBank, and Rakuten Mobile, the initiative kicks off at the Osaka-Kansai Expo in 2025, featuring base stations compatible with each company’s frequencies.

Sharing these critical infrastructure elements is poised to cut telecom carriers’ costs to a mere quarter of what they traditionally spend on individual networks. With Japanese telecom companies annually investing hundreds of billions of yen in base stations and network-related expenses, this shared approach aligns with a broader industry trend seen in China, Europe, and the U.S.

Sumitomo, majority-owned by Tokyo-based Sharing Design, plans to equip the shared base stations with an innovative antenna, developed in collaboration with Furukawa Electric, capable of handling all frequencies. The first phase, designed for the Osaka-Kansai Expo, will see the four major carriers sharing Sumitomo’s base stations on Yumeshima, an artificial island, with equipment reuse post-expo.

Anticipating a shift toward shared stations in rural areas, where user density is lower, Sumitomo envisions significant growth in the joint-use base station market, addressing the challenge of constructing over 2 million dedicated 5G base stations by March 2024. The initiative responds to a broader industry push for increased 5G coverage, with the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications aiming for true high-speed communication through expanded 5G base station deployment.

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