In Opensignal's first report into the 5G mobile network experience across Japan's mobile operators, we see the awards shared across three brands: NTT DoCoMo, SoftBank and Rakuten.
Japan is still near the start of the 5G era. Typically, mobile network technology generations last for at least 10 years. Three of Japan's operators launched 5G just over a year ago in March 2020, while Rakuten launched 5G later on September 30, 2020, and to date Rakuten has focused on its 4G network build over 5G. Like we saw with 3G and 4G previously, 5G technology and the 5G experience that users will enjoy will improve steadily during the 5G era. The 5G experience we see today is just the start. And, all four operators are in the process of extending their 5G networks to hit national coverage, with the pace accelerating in 2021.
Adding more wireless spectrum capacity helps to boost the mobile experience. The new spectrum Japanese operators have deployed is a major reason why 5G is already so superior to older 4G technology. More spectrum will be available for 5G use in the years ahead because the Ministry of Communications is releasing TV spectrum for 5G.
One of the areas where there is most interest in 5G is around mobile gaming because 5G's designers aim to improve the responsiveness, or latency, of mobile networks. In Japan, eSports is set for strong growth, and Opensignal's unique mobile Games Experience quantifies that multiplayer gaming experience.
Already, 5G is much superior to older technologies, and the 5G Games and 5G Video Experience is also superior. This boost in mobile experience is very clear when the results in this 5G Experience report are compared with the companion Japan Mobile Network Experience report — which analyzes the experience across all users, not only those with 5G smartphones and a 5G tariff plan.
In this report, Opensignal sees great differences between the four operators in their users' 5G experience. The real-world measurements used in this report were taken between June 1 and August 29, 2021.