Japan’s Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications allocated 5G spectrum to the country’s three incumbent mobile operators and newcomer Rakuten Mobile, after reviewing applications which revealed they plan to invest a combined JPY1.6 trillion ($14.4 billion) to deploy the technology over the next five years, Nikkei Asian Review reported.

Market leader NTT Docomo earmarked JPY795 billion, while number two KDDI plans to invest more than JPY466 billion, the newspaper said. SoftBank lined up a JPY206 billion investment, while Rakuten in a statement said it expected to invest JPY200 billion “at most”.

The allocation of spectrum in the 3.7GHz and 28GHz bands comes around a week after mobile operators in South Korea and Verizon in the US launched mobile 5G service to consumers.

Japanese operators are required to install 5G base stations in half of 4,500 blocks, or districts, established by the ministry within five years, Nikkei Asian Review said. Docomo and KDDI both target 90 per cent coverage by 2024; SoftBank and Rakuten are aiming for 64 per cent and 56 per cent respectively.

All four operators are targeting the launch of  mobile 5G services sometime in 2020. In December 2018 they stated they have no plans to deploy gear from Huawei and ZTE in the networks, following a ban on the use of Chinese telecoms equipment by government agencies in the country.

Docomo, KDDI and SoftBank are also working toward launching limited commercial 5G services in 2019, with pilots due to take place at the Rugby World Cup.

Rakuten Mobile started construction of its network in August 2018 and plans to launch 4G service in October.