Nippon Telegraph & Telephone will build a pilot 6G network to serve the venue for the 2025 World Expo in Osaka, Nikkei has learned, with plans to commercialize the technology by around the end of the decade, Trend reports citing Nikkei.
The group already has begun designing the basic infrastructure for the network, NTT West President Mitsuyoshi Kobayashi told Nikkei in a recent interview. Details will be finalized from the fiscal year starting in April.
The 6G services will be powered by NTT's Innovative Optical and Wireless Network. The infrastructure, known as IOWN, will serve Yumeshima, Osaka's artificial island that will be the site of the World Expo.
The Japan Association for the 2025 World Exposition, the group organizing the event, plans to roll out next-generation mobility services as well as a virtual expo held in a metaverse where people can participate via avatars. The sixth-generation network is expected to support such offerings.
Telecommunications networks currently make use of data centers and buildings to convert optical signals into electrical signals. But that process produces latencies and expends substantial electricity.
IOWN processes data without converting optical signals, which cuts down on loss. This opens the door to data transmission capacity 125 times greater than that of conventional technology, while reducing power consumption to 1% of the scale.
"The reduction of communications latency can lead to the realization of fully autonomous vehicles," Kobayashi said.
With technical standards yet to be established for 6G, NTT is promoting IOWN as the core technology for the wireless communication. The group is developing next-gen tech for IOWN, such as an operating system and semiconductors that process the optical signals.
The U.S. and China account for nearly 80% of patent applications covering core 6G technology, according to a tally by the Cyber Creative Institute, based in Tokyo. The two countries are neck and neck in terms of holding the top share.
NTT and other Japanese companies make up just 10% of the 6G patent applications, putting them in third place. IOWN's pilot at the World Expo likely will serve as a litmus test for whether Japan can take the lead on 6G.