Nokia has signed an agreement with NTT DOCOMO, Japan's largest mobile operator, to help DOCOMO evolve its existing LTE network to 5G, slated to be in commercial service by 2020. DOCOMO plans to use its existing C-RAN architecture for 5G, and Nokia will enhance the existing baseband units and integrate Nokia’s 5G new radio (5G NR) AirScale radio access equipment into the network.

While Nokia said it is involved in more than 50 5G customer trials, the DOCOMO agreement is Nokia's first significant 5G equipment win, according to Reuters. The agreement extends Nokia’s long-term relationship with DOCOMO, which includes supply agreements for 3G and 4G/LTE technology and, more recently, 5G trials.

Hiroshi Nakamura, the executive VP and CTO of NTT DOCOMO, said, “With this agreement with Nokia, we are now proceeding to the next step to launch 5G mobile services by 2020 and accelerate co-creation of new services and businesses with vertical industry partners.”

Marc Rouanne, president of the mobile networks business at Nokia, said, “Together we have worked hard in recent months to commence preparations for NTT DOCOMO's eventual launch of its operational 5G service by 2020, which we have now set in motion by this very exciting announcement.”

Nokia’s 5G development efforts are compliant with the 3GPP 5G NR standard; the company is working with chipset and device manufacturers and is involved in more than 50 5G trials around the world at all 5G frequency bands (i.e., 3.5, 28 and 39 GHz).