TELECOMPAPER: Japan to deploy 5G on street traffic signal lights

Here is, re-posted from the telecompaper, news from Japan. An interesting part of the article, highlighted by BRHP, shows how Japan plans to reduce costs of 5G deployment for the operators and how to save time, for operators, for the 5G deployment by avoiding permits from property landlords. Are lamp posts not enough or legally too difficult?

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Japanese operators to deploy 5G base stations on traffic signals

Tuesday 4 June 2019 | 11:20 CET | News

The Japanese government will allow mobile operators to deploy 5G base stations on traffic signals. The measure is designed to reduce the cost and time it takes to deploy 5G networks, the Nikkei reports. Mobile operators are expected to start testing 5G equipment on traffic signals in various cities by 31 March 2021, with a goal of completing the nationwide deployment of 5G base stations on traffic signals by 2023.

Japan currently has around 200,000 traffic signals, managed by local governments. Local authorities will be able to use the networks for self-driving vehicle projects and emergency communications in case of natural disasters.

The deployment of 5G base stations on traffic signals is included in the government’s draft IT strategy blueprint, seen by Nikkei. The blueprint is expected to be approved by Japan’s Cabinet by mid-June.

Japan’s Communications Ministry, the National Police Agency, the Transport Ministry and local governments plan to establish a council to manage the project.

NTT Docomo, KDDI, SoftBank and Rakuten plan to make a combined investment of JPY 1.6 trillion (approximately USD 14.8 billion) over the next five years to deploy and expand their 5G networks across the country.

Operators generally install their base stations on rooftops. But most of the available space has already been used, an unnamed source said. Moreover, negotiations with landlords take time and effort. The government thus believes the traffic signal plan could serve as a workaround to accelerate the deployment of 5G infrastructure.

The project includes the installation of sensors on the lights to create “trusted mesh networks”.  Mobile operators, the police and local governments would each have their own private mesh networks. Municipalities would be able to use base-station-equipped lights to develop services for residents. In emergency situations, for example, people could scan their My Number identification cards at signals to confirm their safety, which would then be sent to their families.

Japan’s government recently approved NTT Docomo, KDDI, SoftBank and Rakuten’s plans to deploy 5G networks. The operators intend to offer 5G services in every prefecture within two years. Newcomer Rakuten also wants to launch 4G services in October, and all four operators plan to commercially launch 5G services in 2020.

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