INTERVIEW: NTT Docomo is looking to partnerships to drive demand for new 5G use cases as it prepares to launch the next-generation technology before the Summer Olympics in Tokyo in 2020.

Lan Chen, president and CEO of Docomo Beijing Labs (pictured), told Mobile World Live the operator launched its 5G Open Partners Programme in May and more than 1,400 companies have joined the initiative.

“It is growing very fast. The programme lets potential customers know what 5G can bring and what are the merits of the technology. Docomo holds workshops and offers a 5G test environment to jointly find good use cases,” she explained.

The Beijing unit was set up in 2004 to focus on wireless technology and also to promote 3GPP standardisation. Two years ago it started researching artificial intelligence (AI) to create new services to back Docomo’s smart life business.

Chen added it aims to use 5G technology to enhance the user experience and use AI technology to develop new services.

At Mobile World Congress Shanghai, the executive announced Docomo’s 5G countdown had begun, with the company set to launch the technology within 800 days. The operator plans to first build a non-standalone 5G system based on trials it started in 2017, she said.

“The purpose is to fully utilise the LTE network resources, reduce network costs and speed up the rollout of 5G services. We also want to strategically deploy the network in areas to accommodate heavy data traffic. The second area, which is different from previous generations, will be to try to offer 5G at a price that can bring new services to industries.”

To watch the full interview, click here.