KDDI, the second largest mobile operator in Japan, selected Ericsson, Nokia and Samsung as its main 5G equipment suppliers, as it gears up to launch commercial 5G service in March 2020.

Sweden-based Ericsson said it will provide RAN equipment which allows the operator to launch services in “several parts of Japan on sub-6GHz and 28GHz bands for 5G New Radio (NR).”

In a statement, Nokia said its 5G network will support both cmWave and mmWave frequency bands and can be deployed in both distributed and centralised architectures.

For Samsung, the deal confirms its place as a major 5G network player (having also won deals in the US with Verizon, among others). In March 2018, KDDI and Samsung completed a 5G field trial at a baseball stadium in Okinawa. They also successfully demonstrated 5G-based 4K video streaming powered at a train station in January.

KDDI aims to launch 5G service next year in time for the Summer Olympics in Tokyo. Japan’s telecoms regulator requires it to deploy base stations providing at least 93 per cent population coverage by 2025.

In December 2018 KDDI, along with rivals NTT Docomo and SoftBank, announced it doesn’t plan to deploy gear from Huawei and ZTE in the new network, following a ban on the use of Chinese telecoms equipment by government agencies in the country.

In May 2018, the country’s third largest mobile operator SoftBank also selected Ericsson and Nokia as its 5G radio equipment suppliers, delivering another heavy (but expected) blow to embattled Huawei, which had conducted trials of the next-generation mobile technology with the operator.