Operators in Japan are working toward launching limited commercial 5G services in 2019, bringing the schedule forward and with pilots taking place at the Rugby World Cup being held in the country.

Previously, the country’s operators had touted the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo as a major proving ground. But with momentum around 5G having picked up pace globally, the operators now seem to be moving faster with their plans.

Citing local publications, RCR Wireless News reported representatives from NTT Docomo, KDDI and SoftBank told a government hearing that limited commercial launches would take place in 2019, ahead of a full 5G service for smartphones in 2020.

It said market leader NTT Docomo plans to rent out 5G devices (albeit without charge) at the Rugby World Cup, which takes place between September and November 2019.

In the meantime, a 5G spectrum allocation process will take place in the country. Availability of suitable frequencies is of course critical for operators.

The country’s operators have already been pressing ahead with 5G tests and commercial supply deals have been signed.