Japan mulls 5G fee to subsidise fibre rollouts in rural areas

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CommsUpdate: The Japan Times writes that the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications (MIC) is contemplating plans to make mobile carriers and fibre-based ISPs charge their customers a small fee each month, with the monies collected to be distributed among companies operating fibre infrastructure in unprofitable parts of the country – including mountain zones and remote islands – in a bid to improve rural coverage in as affordable way as possible.

The ministry is keen to ensure that fibre-optic infrastructure for the support of 5G wireless networks can be built and maintained countrywide, and will launch a review panel this spring with a view to introducing the planned fee system in the mid-20s.

NTT Corp’s regional fixed line operators NTT East and NTT West currently collect a universal service-based monthly fee of JPY2 (USD0.02) from every mobile and fixed line phone user to maintain their fixed networks across Japan.

It is understood the government-appointed panel will consider moves to introduce a new fee system for fibre-optic networks based on the existing model. While 5G networks promise data speeds far in excess of those currently offered by LTE-based systems, they also require significantly more base stations than 4G equivalents – hence the need to provide a backstop for 5G network infrastructure in unprofitable areas.

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