The Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications (MIC) plans to launch a research project on base stations utilizing new technology for fifth generation mobile communications (5G) with the Japan Telegraph and Telephone Corporation, commonly known as NTT, and Nagoya University, the Sankei Shimbun learned on June 24. The research is expected to lead to the commercialization of high-efficiency base stations that can transmit radio waves ten times the distance of existing base stations by using gallium nitride, a material used for blue light-emitting diodes (LEDs). Highly efficient base stations are indispensable for 5G. Japanese technology will contribute to the spread of 5G, which is poised to be introduced around the globe.
Japan plans to roll out its 5G network in 2020. But 5G uses high-frequency radio waves that cannot travel long distances and the current technologies only allow radio waves to be transmitted within a radius of about 100 meters, requiring a lot of small base stations to be built.
But base stations that utilize new technology will reportedly be able to transmit radio waves within a radius of one kilometer or so by using gallium nitride for a device designed to amplify radio waves. However, gallium nitride is easily damaged and thus difficult to process.
If 5G is introduced using the current technologies, mobile carriers will have to shoulder a heavier burden of capital spending to expand the network of small base stations. An MIC official expressed hope that the practical application of the research “will bring down mobile phone bills.” Gallium nitride is a material used in blue LEDs and is highly exergonic and energy saving. Nagoya University Professor Hiroshi Amano, Meijo University Tenured Professor Isamu Akasaki, and University of California, Santa Barbara Professor Shuji Nakamura won the Nobel Prize in Physics for their research related to the material.