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NEC selected as a vendor for NTT DOCOMO's Standalone 5G mobile core

Tokyo, November 4, 2020 - NEC Corporation (NEC; TSE: 6701) today announced its selection by NTT DOCOMO, Inc. (NTT DOCOMO) as a vendor of a 5G mobile core network (5GC) compatible with Standalone (SA) 5G that NTT DOCOMO plans to launch in 2021.

In addition to the 5GC, NEC will provide a compact user data processor, the "UPF mini" (*1), as part of driving further development of NTT DOCOMO's SA 5G, and meeting the diverse network needs of the 5G era, including support for 5G features such as enhanced Mobile Broadband (eMBB), massive Machine Type Communications (mMTC), and Ultra-Reliable and Low Latency Communications (URLLC).

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NEC 5GC Use Case

This SA 5GC features flexible operations, enabled by the adoption of container technology (*1), in addition to the virtualization adopted by virtualized Evolved Packet Core (vEPC). Moreover, the SA 5GC enables the provision of sliced networks that are ideal for the various services that take advantage of 5G features, while also improving scalability. This SA 5GC is also provided in the cloud, as NEC promotes its expansion into the global market.

In addition, the UPF mini data processor is smaller and saves more power than conventional models, which increases flexibility in terms of where the unit can be installed. In order to achieve ultra-low latency, which is a key feature of 5G, it is necessary to reduce the latency of the entire network configuration, including the wired section and the wireless section between the base station and the user terminal. Placing the UPF mini in wired sections and shortening the physical distance to the application server enables Multi Access Edge Computing (MEC) (*2) to be implemented, which reduces the overall processing time, thereby contributing to the expansion of the ultra-low latency service area.

NEC already provides NTT DOCOMO with core networking vEPC for LTE. The 5G service launched by NTT DOCOMO in March 2020, uses an extension of this vEPC and operates as a Non-standalone (NSA) core network. NEC also provides base stations and 5G radio base stations for LTE. Together with this core network, NEC will provide total support for NTT DOCOMO's 5G services and will contribute to the expansion of next-generation network services.

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Contribution to NTT DOCOMO's core network

"This 5GC allows us to build a 5G core network that can flexibly accommodate a wide variety of needs and use cases," explained Naoki Tani, Executive General Manager, R&D Innovation Division, NTT DOCOMO, while explaining the selection of NEC's 5GC and UPF mini. "Going forward, NTT DOCOMO will continue to provide state-of-the-art functions together with NEC and other partners in order to promote further advances in 5G networks."

"We are honored to be selected by NTT DOCOMO as a 5G core network vendor," said Atsuo Kawamura, Executive Vice President, Network Services Business Unit, NEC. "We look forward to providing high-quality and reliable 5GC in addition to the core network devices and radios we have already provided for NTT DOCOMO's 4G network. NEC will continue to support NTT DOCOMO's expansion of 5G services and contributing to the further development of next-generation mobile infrastructure, both domestically and across global markets."


  • (*1)
    Technology that enabbles a virtual operating environment with less computer resources by building an application execution environment isolated from other processes on the OS (operating system).
  • (*2)
    Technology that enables low latency and decentralized processing by installing an edge server near the user and communicating with the application there.

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