Structural reforms under the Government of Japan’s ICT Strategy have supported the introduction of high-speed, large-capacity ICT infrastructure, the lowering of communications costs, and the development of e-commerce and e-government.
Internet access costs have decreased dramatically and access to broadband is now amongst the most developed in the world. The Government has already announced its intention to have 5G up and running in time for the Games and is investigating how best to meet the growing need for more bandwidth for cellular applications. This is not limited to more obvious telecommunication areas such as big data and the Internet of Things (IoT), but also includes areas such as healthcare and transportation for both ground-based vehicles and drones.
The EBC appreciates the opportunity to contribute to the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications’ (MIC) policy committees as an official participant and applauds the Government’s overall commitment to an industry-led, global approach to standards and platform development. Important steps have already been taken to facilitate the product approval process, firstly by signing an EU-Japan mutual recognition agreement (MRA) for telecommunications terminal equipment in 2001, and secondly by introducing a Supplier’s Self Verification of Conformity (SVC) in 2004, similar to the Suppliers’ Declaration of Conformity (SDoC) introduced in Europe. Despite these significant achievements, however, implementation to date has been disappointing. The number of accredited testing bodies designated under the MRA remains low and the SVC still applies mainly to wired telecommunications terminals, with limited application to wireless/radio equipment. Although some additional products have been added to the SVC’s scope, many products are still not covered.
There are approximately 7.9 billion mobile phone subscriptions globally and 6.5 billion of these are connected to mobile broadband, with overall mobile data traffic doubling each year. In Japan, which is considered a mature market characterised by advanced data services and the introduction of Long-Term Evolution (LTE), smartphone penetration is already at about 70% and is driving mobile broadband growth. Japan is promoting new wireless technologies for IoT, Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) and 5G. Advanced wireless technologies can facilitate innovative use of ICT, and contribute to emerging industries and economic growth.
Applications used on smartphones, such as video and social networks, and machine-to-machine communication place different demands on the network. Japan has played an active role in efforts to harmonise the spectrums used for International Mobile Telecommunications (IMT) systems at the global level. It is important to note that MIC took on an important role for this goal at the World Radiocommunication Conference 2019 (WRC-19), especially in relation to the identification of new harmonised spectrums for IMT above 24GHz (Conference agenda item 1.13). This would bring enormous benefits to the IMT industry and its customers by eliminating the need to develop local variations of new telecommunications equipment. The EBC strongly supports this work and hopes that Japan will continue to implement new spectrum bands according to the outcomes of WRC-19 that are harmonised with other markets.
The telecommunications industry is based on technical standards covered by so-called Standard Essential Patents (SEP), which commit the patent holder to licensing on Fair and Reasonable, And Non-Discriminatory (FRAND) terms. The Japan Patent Office (JPO) introduced in 2018 guidance for SEP licensing negotiations and a process for essentiality evaluation. Recently, METI has also drafted, in 2020, and again in 2021, its own guidance for SEP licensing and JPO has initiated the work to update its 2018 Guide. There is increasing demand to harmonise the SEP licensing guidance between various agencies in Japan. These must be further monitored and global SEP practices explained in Japan.
Key issues and recommendations
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