Japan’s KDDI and SoftBank Corp outlined plans to expand the scope of a joint venture 5G initiative, pledging to build out a total 100,000 base stations each and achieve a total JPY120 billion ($770 million) in cost savings.

The joint venture, dubbed 5G Japan, was established in 2020 and aims to enhance the country’s international competitiveness through infrastructure sharing and mutual utilsation of base station assets owned by both companies.

Through the venture, the duo have built out more than 38,000 5G base stations each, resulting in capex cost reductions of JPY45 billion to date. Initiatives have so far focused on rural areas of Japan.

In attempts to build on this progress, they are now expanding the scope of their collaboration. This will include an aim to jointly build out 100,000 base stations each by the fiscal year 2030 (ending 31 March 2031), as well as exploring standardising construction specifications used for 4G and 5G base stations and the joint procurement of equipment.

Both operators also said they aim to commence various trials and technology discussions in 2024, with the goal of “fully expanding their collaboration scope from 2026”, although details on what they plan to do specifically were not disclosed.

“KDDI, SoftBank, and 5G Japan will continue to strengthen their cooperation and advance initiatives that enhance Japan’s resilience and improve its international competitiveness,” a press release read.

KDDI and SoftBank are the number two and three mobile operators in Japan, respectively, behind market leader NTT Docomo (based on mobile connections).