What does telco innovation look like? Ask NTT Docomo…

Ray Le Maistre
By Ray Le Maistre

Jan 17, 2024

Source: NTT Docomo

Source: NTT Docomo

  • NTT Docomo is hosting its Open House’24 exhibition
  • The Japanese telco uses the event to showcase its technology and application innovations
  • Its latest batch includes advances in 5G, 6G, cloud networking and, of course, GenAI

Telcos are often accused of being technology and digital service laggards and struggling to innovate but try telling that to Japanese giant NTT Docomo, which is currently hosting its online Open House’24 exhibition to showcase its latest cutting-edge technology and application developments. 

The operator is showing off 31 new technologies, including a “number of world firsts”, that range from 5G advances, 6G technologies, metaverse and other extended reality (XR) applications, smart city platforms and, as you’d expect, a number of applications based on generative AI (GenAI) capabilities. 

The exhibition includes an introduction from Docomo’s CTO and executive general manager of the operator’s research and development (R&D) innovation division, Takaaki Sato, who explains that various “once-in-a-century breakthroughs” are being driven by asking basic opening questions, such as “How can we solve that problem?” and “How can we make the world better?”

He showcases an example of how a GenAI-enabled screen-based chatbot interacts with Docomo customers using a system the telco calls ‘communications AI’ to gauge the mood and needs of the customer in order to provide the best customer engagement interaction. 

That’s just one of the multiple use cases based on GenAI R&D. Others include the development of human digital twins, business transformation through evolving language models, predictive healthcare, the development of NPCs (non-playable characters) for metaverse environments. 

Also for metaverse environments, Docomo has been developing smart glasses for simultaneous multiple content displays, remote physical interaction technology (including table tennis games between remote participants!) and virtual event platforms, among others. 

NTT Docomo has been pumping R&D funds into metaverse and related developments since 2022 when it announced the launch of a wholly owned unit called NTT Qonoq, which is tasked with developing hardware and software products for the XR sector – see NTT Docomo commits to a metaverse future.

In the telecom networks realm, Docomo has been developing: “An advanced yet portable simulator that makes it easy to visualise 5G wireless transmission characteristics and electromagnetic interference effects” in specific industrial settings to help advance the adoption of 5G by multiple industry verticals; cloud-enabled network slicing using end-to-end orchestration, QoS (quality-of-service) visualisation and monitoring, and 5G core functionality from AWS (Amazon Web Services); high-altitude platform station (HAPS) and subsea mobile network drone developments; communication platforms that combine high-speed data transmissions (at more than 100 Gbit/s) with AI in sub-terahertz spectrum bands to enable the integration of physical space and cyberspace; and more. 

And as an example of world-first applications, Docomo is showing off its ‘feel’ tech, which enables individuals to share taste sensations over wireless connections, as reported late last year.    

NTT Docomo will also be demonstrating some of these technology advances at MWC24 in Barcelona next month (Hall 4, Stand 4E50), along with its latest Open RAN developments. 

- Ray Le Maistre, Editorial Director, TelecomTV

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