Japan’s top carriers announce 5G launches as 2020 Olympics face delay

By JEREMY HORWITZ

Although Japanese carriers originally planned to roll out 5G networks and services to coincide with the 2020 Tokyo Olympics in July, trade wars and accelerated global 5G launches created some uncertainty around the scope and timing of Japan’s commercial 5G launch. This week, as the Olympics themselves face a delay due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Japan’s top carriers are kicking off 5G service without the guarantee of a summertime promotional push.

Today, carrier KDDI announced that it will offer “au 5G”-branded service in parts of 15 Japanese prefectures starting on Thursday, March 26, notably with unlimited data at the same price point as prior 4G service — 8,480 yen (~$77) per month, or 3,460 yen (~$31) after various early adopter discounts. The carrier says it will service major cities in all 47 prefectures by summer, expand to 10,000 5G base stations by March 2021, and offer 20,000 stations by March 2022.

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