SoftBank’s first 5G smartphones to go on sale March 27

TOKYO: SoftBank Corp made official its plans for a fifth-generation cellular networking service, something all Japanese carriers are racing toward, on Thursday in Tokyo.

SoftBank, the reliable revenue stream underpinning Masayoshi Son’s SoftBank Group Corp, will start by selling four 5G smartphones from March 27.

It’s getting out ahead of incoming rival Rakuten Inc, whose 4G network will begin service on April 8 with an attractive 2,980 yen unlimited monthly plan.

The 5G option will be available as an add-on to existing plans for 1,000 yen per month.

Subscribers who sign up by Aug 31 will get it for free for two years.

SoftBank’s plan with 50GB of monthly data currently costs 6,500 yen, with a 1,000 yen discount for the first year.

The company recently softened its contract pricing, ostensibly to head off Rakuten’s aggressively priced competition, and it’s laying the groundwork for getting users onto 5G without added financial impediments.

Local rivals KDDI Corp and NTT Docomo Inc also plan to launch 5G services this spring, whereas newcomer Rakuten has targeted June for availability of its 5G network.