Nokia continues to have bigger fish to fry than taking back control of a mobile phone business that’s gradually recovering under HMD Global’s management. Essentially out of the consumer electronics world, the Finnish tech giant is more focused than ever on building and protecting a strong patent portfolio, as well as leading the 5G revolution.

While AT&T is yet to announce the name (s) of infrastructure-establishing partner (s) for its fast-approaching true 5G network, NTT DoCoMo has entered an alliance with Nokia to “provide a natural evolution to existing 4G/LTE deployments” in Japan.

The nation’s largest mobile operator aims to bring 5G to “commercial reality” by 2020, hoping to greatly improve speed, capacity and latency for web browsing and downloads on the fly during the next Summer Olympics in Tokyo.

The initial rollout will likely take place in the capital city’s greater metropolitan area only, with the technology then slowly expanding across a country that was ranked second in the world for 4G availability (aka consistency) in an OpenSignal report last year, but a terrible 31st in 4G speed.

After working “closely together” in 5G trials, the two companies have agreed on supply of Nokia’s 5G BBUs (baseband units) for 5G RRHs (remote radio heads) management. In alignment with NTT DoCoMo’s direction, existing C-RAN architecture will be “fully utilized”, and Nokia’s equipment will be based on the new 3GPP-compliant 5G NR standard.

You don’t have to know what all those technical terms mean to understand the significance of this deal, both for Japan’s wireless industry and Nokia’s thriving telecommunications infrastructure business.

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