Japan’s NTT: Pioneering the Future of Telecom with 6G and AI

Japan’s leading mobile carrier, NTT DOCOMO, is set to showcase its latest high-tech gear at the Mobile World Congress 2024 in Barcelona. The company will showcase its 6G, Open RAN, and XR technology, which will be part of the Space Compass joint venture between DOCOMO and SKY Perfect JSAT. These unmanned vehicles can fly in the stratosphere for days or even months at a time.

The event will also feature the Japanese government’s decision to subsidize NTT’s work with Intel and South Korean memory chip maker SK Hynix to mass produce opto-electronic semiconductors for high-speed, low-power data transmission. DOCOMO’s 6G exhibit will include its latest wireless technologies, non-terrestrial networks, and its Human Augmentation Platform for sharing sensory information between network users. The event aims to generate new business and influence the development of 6G industry standards.

FEEL TECH, a technology developed by NTT DOCOMO, the Embodied Media Project at Keio University, and the Haptics Lab at Nagoya Institute of Technology, aims to transmit haptic information generated by touch and awareness of position and movement that is difficult to communicate verbally.

The technology consists of a device that detects a person’s sensory state, a driving device that physically reproduces the same state in another person, and the Human Augmentation Platform, which shares the information between devices connected to a network. The platform will synchronize haptic and video data using the low latency of 6G mobile networks. The Open RAN exhibit will showcase a 360-degree 3D virtual tour of DOCOMO’s OREX verification environment, automated network design and maintenance demonstrations, and a presentation on progress toward commercialization.

OREX was deployed in Japan last September with base station software from Fujitsu, a cloud platform from Wind River, IC accelerators from NVIDIA, and off-the-shelf servers with Intel processors. OREX collaborates with NTT Data, AMD, HP, Qualcomm, Red Hat, Mavenir, and VMware, demonstrating Open RAN principle, which encourages efficient use of software and hardware from multiple vendors, increasing flexibility, and lowering costs.

The XR exhibit will showcase the first conceptual model of smart glasses created by NTT QONOQ Devices and Sharp. The glasses consist of a wearable computer with a Qualcomm Snapdragon processor, a transparent display, an eight-megapixel camera, touchpad, and battery pack. The Japanese government has granted 45 billion yen (US$305 million) to support the development of mass production technology for photonics-electronics convergence devices under NTT’s IOWN initiative for high-speed, high-capacity networks and information processing infrastructure. Intel, a partner since 2019, will contribute manufacturing expertise, while SK Hynix, the leader in high-bandwidth DRAM memory for AI applications, will provide expertise in high-capacity high-speed memory chips.

The IOWN Global Forum, established by NTT, Intel, and Sony, will discuss the technology’s potential in Barcelona. The forum will feature executives and experts from various companies, including NTT, KDDI, Nokia, Ericsson, SK Telecom, Red Hat, Intel, and Fujitsu. NTT aims to introduce IOWN networks to global markets by 2030, potentially advancing artificial intelligence, autonomous driving, digital twin computing, telemedicine, and other data-intensive applications. Japan’s Minister of Economy, Trade, and Industry hopes the IOWN project will help restore Japan’s global semiconductor industry position and set an example for high-tech collaboration between Japan, South Korea, and the US.

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