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NTT DOCOMO selects NEC as vendor for 5G mobile core network

05 Nov 2020

NEC Corporation has today announced its selection by NTT DOCOMO, Inc. as a vendor of a 5G mobile core network (5GC) compatible with Standalone (SA) 5G that NTT DOCOMO plans to launch in 2021.

In addition to the 5GC, NEC will provide a compact user data processor, the ‘UPF mini’, as part of driving further development of NTT DOCOMO’s SA 5G, and meeting the diverse network needs of the 5G era, including support for 5G features such as enhanced mobile broadband (eMBB), massive machine-type communications (mMTC), and ultra-reliable and low latency communications (URLLC).

This SA 5GC features flexible operations, enabled by the adoption of container technology, in addition to the virtualisation adopted by virtualised Evolved Packet Core (vEPC). 

Also, the SA 5GC enables the provision of sliced networks that are ideal for the various services that take advantage of 5G features, while also improving scalability. This SA 5GC is also provided in the cloud, as NEC promotes its expansion into the global market.

The UPF mini data processor is smaller and saves more power than conventional models, says NEC, which increases flexibility in terms of where the unit can be installed. 

To achieve ultra-low latency — a key feature of 5G — it is necessary to reduce the latency of the entire network configuration, including the wired section and the wireless section between the base station and the user terminal. 

“This 5GC allows us to build a 5G core network that can flexibly accommodate a wide variety of needs and use cases,” says NTT DOCOMO executive general manager of R&D Naoki Tani.

“Going forward, NTT DOCOMO will continue to provide state-of-the-art functions together with NEC and other partners in order to promote further advances in 5G networks.”

Placing the UPF mini in wired sections and shortening the physical distance to the application server enables multi-access edge computing (MEC) to be implemented, which reduces the overall processing time, thereby contributing to the expansion of the ultra-low latency service area.

NEC already provides NTT DOCOMO with core networking vEPC for LTE. The 5G service launched by NTT DOCOMO in March 2020 uses an extension of this vEPC and operates as a non-standalone (NSA) core network. 

NEC also provides base stations and 5G radio base stations for LTE. Together with this core network, NEC will provide total support for NTT DOCOMO’s 5G services and will contribute to the expansion of next-generation network services.

“We are honoured to be selected by NTT DOCOMO as a 5G core network vendor,” says NEC executive vice president of network services business unit Atsuo Kawamura.

“We look forward to providing high-quality and reliable 5GC in addition to the core network devices and radios we have already provided for NTT DOCOMO’s 4G network. 

“NEC will continue to support NTT DOCOMO’s expansion of 5G services and contributing to the further development of next-generation mobile infrastructure, both domestically and across global markets.”