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5G networks

KDDI connects Japan farms and factories to 5G for under $10

Move seen boosting nation's slow adoption of internet of things

Driverless tactors move in sync in an experiment by Hokkaido University. Low-cost local 5G networks can make smart farming more widely available.

TOKYO -- Japanese wireless carrier KDDI will provide a 5G service starting at under $10 a month, giving cash-strapped businesses and local governments a low-cost option to build fast networks that can support business activity.

When fifth-generation wireless technology was rolled out in Japan in March, it was hailed as a spark for the growth of the internet of things -- devices networked to share data with each other, creating smart farms and factories. But the spread of IoT has been slow.

A local 5G network for a specific building or area requires an initial investment of tens of millions to hundreds of millions of yen (10 million yen equals $93,000.) KDDI's new service will start at several hundred yen per month, comparable to the rates for 4G, depending on the volume of data.

The low-cost 5G will debut later this fiscal year through subsidiary Soracom.

By inserting SIM cards into sensors and other devices that collect and transmit data, users will be able to manage that data in the cloud through KDDI's network.

5G can connect roughly 10 times more devices as 4G and with fewer delays. Local 5G networks can help businesses remotely control robots at their factories or manage inventory and shipping more efficiently at distribution centers. Municipal governments can use 5G in emergencies to monitor the health of people at evacuation centers using wearable devices.

The global market for 5G-related internet of things devices will reach 104 trillion yen ($970 billion) in the next decade, about 29 times the level in 2020, according to the Japan Electronics and Information Technology Industries Association.

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