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Enrich Society

Reinforce and Globalize Research and Development

Relevant GRI Standards: 103-2/203-1,2

Relevant SDGs

  • INDUSTRY, INNOVATION AND INFRASTRUCTURE

    9: INDUSTRY, INNOVATION AND INFRASTRUCTURE

  • PARTNERSHIPS FOR THE GOALS

    17: PARTNERSHIPS FOR THE GOALS

Policies and Concepts

As ICT companies leading the world, the NTT Group recognizes R&D as a material issue that gives Group companies their competitive edge. R&D supports the digital transformation of our customers and lifestyle transformations tailored to individuals, and the R&D department works with operating companies to develop new technologies that provide the wellspring for new value creation in a variety of domains to enhance the NTT Group's R&D, a pillar of our medium-term management strategy. The NTT Group seeks to overcome numerous problems involving safety, disaster readiness, and the improvement of productivity through R&D and, as a result, strengthen industrial competitiveness and resolve social issues.

Since ICT is applied in a variety of fields, we are forging partnerships with counterparts in wide-ranging industries as we pursue our R&D initiatives.

Organization for Implementation

NTT Group's Overall R&D Organization(as of March 31, 2020)
Number of Researchers Approx. 5,000
R&D Expenses 220 billion yen/year

With respect to R&D undertaken by the NTT Group, NTT's three laboratory groups are responsible for conducting basic research that serves as the backbone of telecommunications, such as basic and component technologies related to services and networks, while each operating company conducts applied research that is more closely related to its business.

Also, we promote general producer activities, in which we formulate marketing and business plans and forge alliances so that the results of research by NTT laboratories can be transformed into Group businesses. In these general producer activities, we seek to develop business in a timely manner by combining the wide-ranging basic technologies of NTT laboratories with external technologies in collaboration with Group companies and with various other companies to create new services.

In order for innovation to continually be an important driver of the NTT Group well into the future, we will aim to contribute to the realization of a sustainable society by promoting innovations for social issues. These efforts will include patent applications and the publication of scientific papers.

Enhance and Globalize R&D

The NTT Group is advancing innovative research and development that drives change worldwide while stepping up basic research at overseas centers. Specifically, we will use the research centers established overseas to strengthen joint research with a varied range of research bodies, actively utilize the latest external technologies, and increase investment in research on new growth fields. We will also promote the global rollout of R&S results and globalization of research targets.

In July 2019, we opened NTT Research, Inc., which operates three research laboratories, in Silicon Valley in the United States for the purpose of reinforcing fundamental research. We have launched a collaboration with universities and research institutes in the United States and Europe in the fields of quantum computational science, medical/health/healthcare, and basic cryptography/blockchain. We will further globalize our research and development by opening research centers in areas around the world, starting with Silicon Valley.

Main Initiatives

Research and Development to Promote the B2B2X Model

Promoting the B2B2X business model is a central pillar of the NTT Group's initiatives contributing to the realization of a smart society. In the B2B2X model, instead of providing services to customers directly, the NTT Group supports service providers by offering ICT tools such as AI and IoT, to which various values are added before being delivered to customers.

In addition, the NTT Group has been working to realize B2B2X models with many partner companies and local governments. We will further evolve them and advance a model that uses digital services and data management.

  • We have been working together with Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Ltd. to promote the transformation of manufacturing technology in the social infrastructure industry. By applying communication-grade optical fiber technology with laser processing, we have succeeded in transmitting high-power single-mode laser light, whereas, conventionally, such transmissions have been possible only up to several meters. This research success opens the door to higher efficiency and precision in laser processing while expanding applications into new fields. The technology is expected to spark innovation in manufacturing.
  • In the ongoing migration from Public Switched Telephone Networks (PSTN), we have developed fundamental technologies that enable the use of metal cables of conventional telephone networks to connect with the IP networks operated by NTT East and NTT West (next-generation networks, NGNs) through transfer switches, which connect with other carriers through IP and migrate tandem/signal switches to IP. We will continue to pursue the initiative toward its scheduled completion.

Research and Development Aimed at Achieving Immersive and Natural Worlds

NTT has further evolved its Kirari!® processing technology, which aims to create worlds that provide "just like being there," ultra-high immersion experiences in real time that can be accessed anywhere. The newly developed techniques not only enable the acquisition and transmission of the images of subjects from video broadcasts, along with 3D positioning information, but also allow them to be reproduced at the destination in a pseudo-3D display that generates the sensation that the subjects also move toward and away from the viewer. This results in the achievement of an audience experience in which the subjects appear to move in three dimensions at the destination.

For example, in a sports match, the technology can project a pseudo-3D display of an athlete onto a stage and give a real sense of the projected athlete moving nearer or further away through synchronization with the movements of the athlete in the actual event being broadcast.

  • Signed a multi-year partnership with Major League Baseball (MLB) in the United States as a smart sports initiative aimed at promoting NTT's latest technologies to deliver next-generation baseball viewing experience. A Proof of Concept using NTT's Ultra Reality Viewing technology (URV) was conducted in October 2019 during the post-season games of the MLB, providing the world's first successful demonstration of an immersive live-viewing experience by combining and transmitting 12K super-wide-screen video images.

Promoting Cutting-Edge Research

With large capacity optical networks expected to evolve further to facilitate the widespread use of IoT and 5G services, we are newly developing our own digital signal processing and ultra-broadband optical device technologies, and we have become the first in the world to successfully test the long-distance transmission of a wavelength division multiplexed optical signal. We also successfully used two technologies for large-volume wireless transmission, as described below. In addition to these, we are advancing cutting edge research, such as the joint development with a university of an ultra-high-speed integrated circuit that enables wireless transmission.

Increasing the Capacity of Optical Fiber Communication Networks

Increasing the capacity of mission-critical optical fiber communication networks has become an economic necessity. We have developed new proprietary technology for digital signal processing and ultra-wide area optical devices, increasing the channel capacity per wavelength to the point that transmission speeds achieve a level more than 10 times that of current commercial systems, and achieving a global first of 1 terabit/sec of capacity in long-distance wavelength-division multiplexed transmission trials. Furthermore, we also succeeded in developing an ultra-high-speed compact optical front-end module with integrated compact, wide-band InP optical modulator.

As another accomplishment, we realized high-capacity wireless transmissions at approximately 10 times the speed of LTE and Wi-Fi, and five times that of 5G, by using the following two technologies.

The first one enables wireless transmissions at rates of 100 Gb/sec by using a method devised by NTT combining a principle called "OAM multiplexing" with MIMO technology. This generates multiple radio waves of different frequencies so that they can transmit simultaneously without interfering with the each other. The result is a dramatic increase in the volume of data that can be transmitted simultaneously, enabling large-capacity communications.

The second one, which was jointly developed with the National University Corporation Tokyo Institute of Technology, enables wireless transmissions of 100 Gb/sec in the 300 GHz band. It is easier to expand the transmission bandwidth or terahertz waves, including the 300 GHz band, although they require high-performance devices. We developed an ultra-highspeed integrated chip (IC) for wireless frontend devices, leading to the world's first 100 Gb/sec wireless transmission in the 300 GHz band.

Optical Transistor Capable of High-Speed Operation with Ultra-low Power Consumption

As Moore's law approaches its limit in electronic circuits, there are expectations for a new, high-speed, energy-saving computing platform that incorporates optical technology. Achieving this requires technologies that have hitherto been considered difficult to achieve with low energy consumption, such as opto-electronic signal conversion and high-speed signal processing in the optical area. NTT has been developing a semiconductor nanostructure called photonic crystals with which to realize various tiny optical devices. In this work, we used our nanotechnology to realize a nano electro-optic modulator (E-O converter) and a nano photodetector (O-E converter) with extremely small capacitance and low energy consumption. Moreover, through their integration, we also realized an O-E-O conversion optical transistor. These nano-optical technologies have opened the way to realizing high-speed, low-energy integrated opto-electronic information processing.

Looking to the Future: IOWN

NTT R&D is envisaging the arrival of new smart societies that are not yet possible with today's Internet, with features such as mobility as a service (MaaS) for extreme fail-safe systems and entertainment services offering deep immersion. To realize such smart societies, we will require innovation that cannot be achieved merely by extending the trajectory of current technologies; we will need to realize ultra-low power consumption, high-speed signal processing, and the fusion of virtual worlds that can equal or surpass reality with sophisticated prediction technologies. The NTT Group has proposed the Innovative Optical and Wireless Network (IOWN) concept to realize new smart societies, and we are committed to realizing this concept.

In January 2020, the IOWN Global Forum was established in the United States by industry leaders NTT, Intel Corporation, and Sony Corporation, all three of which have superior expertise in the technological areas that form the core of IOWN. Wide-ranging recruitment efforts began in March 2020, with many companies both in Japan and overseas signing up as members, and specific technological considerations commenced through the use of online video conferencing. Going forward, we will work with a variety of partners for the earliest possible implementation of the IOWN concept.

Three Technologies that Constitute IOWN

  • All-Photonics Network
    Photonics technology is applied not only to networks but also to information processing to achieve large-capacity, ultralow power consumption and ultra-high-speed data transmission that had been difficult in the past. We can provide multiple functions that serve as the backbones of social infrastructure without mutual interference by assigning a function to each wavelength on a single optical fiber.
  • Digital Twin Computing
    We combine highly precise digital information reflecting real-world objects, such as things, people and societies, to achieve large-scale, high-accuracy predictions and simulations of the future, and enable extremely advanced, real-time interactions between things and people in cyberspace.
  • Cognitive Foundation®
    We seek to achieve optimal matching of all manner of ICT resources and distributing necessary information inside the network.

We will lead the shift from a world of electronics to a world of photonics and drive technological development for resolving various global social issues and creating innovative services.

Research and Development to Support the IOWN Concept

  • By using light as a means for transmitting signals inside the processors that perform information processing and calculations inside a computer, we hope to create a hybrid opto-electrical processor that will solve problems that arise with electrical processing, such as power consumption and increase in heat emission, and realize ultra-low power consumption and high-performance information processing. We have realized ultra-compact photo-electric conversion elements such as an optical transistor that uses nano-photonics technology.
  • To conduct a comparative time experiment by connecting several optical lattice clocks that are more precise than atomic clocks, the current standard for measuring seconds, we used the optical fiber network of NTT East for an optical frequency transmission experiment with the University of Tokyo. As a result, the required frequency precision for the comparative experiment was achieved, representing a major step toward conducting the experiment.

Promoting Other Cutting-Edge Research

  • In collaboration with the Tokyo Institute of Technology, we achieved an all-optical switch that operates at ultra-high speeds while using the lowest energy consumption in the world. By combining a technology called plasmonics for guiding light into a nano-sized optical pathway with graphene, which has excellent optical properties, we achieved ultra-highspeed switching operation with low energy consumption that exceeds the potential of electronic control. We plan to utilize this technology for ultra-high-speed control of future optical integrated circuits for information processing.
  • We successfully developed a method of rebuilding microscopic nerve cell fibers at a micrometer to millimeter scale by forcing graphene, a sheet of carbon material, to spontaneously adapt to a three-dimensional cylindrical structure and culturing nerve cells inside it over a long period of time. This is expected to lead to new bio-device applications such as a fundamental technology for reconstructive surgery using stem cells, a manufacturing technology for the flexible stimulation of electrodes implanted in damaged tissues, and a technology to create tissues for pharmaceutical screening.
  • In cooperation with Hokkaido University and the City of Iwamizawa, toward achieving unmanned, fully automated operation in agricultural equipment using remote monitoring, we have started testing an optimal positioning and positional information transmission method, optimal network technology, collection of IoT device data, and AI analysis.
  • NTT concluded an agreement with the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) for implementing an ultra-highspeed, high-capacity, secure optical/wireless network infrastructure to seamlessly connect land and space. In preparation for merging the technologies of both entities to create social infrastructure, the two parties are undertaking joint research in areas such as optical wireless communications in space, next-generation Earth observation, and communication between ground stations and low Earth orbit satellites.
  • As part of our efforts to enable communications beneath the surface of the sea where radio waves cannot easily penetrate, we achieved subsurface communication speeds of 1 Mbit/s, a double-digit improvement over current levels by using ultrasound MIMO multiplexing technology to overcome variations in the subsurface propagation path.

Intellectual Property Management

Our Approach to Intellectual Property

The business activities of the NTT Group are sustained by products and services derived from the results of our aggressive R&D. For this reason, we believe that appropriate protection and utilization of intellectual property generated by R&D is vital for the NTT Group to achieve continuous growth, which in turn will enable us to continue contributing to our customers and society at large. We strive to protect the intellectual property of the NTT Group and promote activities that respect the intellectual property of others in every aspect of our business activities.

System of Intellectual Property Management

NTT protects the results of its R&D to maintain its competitive edge but at the same time makes its intellectual property available to a wider audience by licensing technologies that would contribute to the development of industries and businesses as well as standardized technologies that are already used in society. Under the leadership of the NTT

Intellectual Property Center, NTT has established policies for intellectual property activities involving the entire NTT Group and also provides support and coordination for the use and management of intellectual properties, aggregates the opinions within the Group on the intellectual property system and disseminates information outside the Group.

Protection of Third Party Intellectual Property

In order to prevent the infringement of domestic and overseas third party rights, NTT examines the third party rights of technologies used in our business at every step from the early stage of research and development up to the provision of the developed technologies to Group companies. NTT also strives to enhance the Group's compliance with intellectual property laws and regulations in Japan and abroad and mitigate potential business risks by sharing among the Group companies information on system amendments, and trends concerning intellectual property including disputes and court cases.

External Utilization of R&D Outcomes

Since its founding, NTT has promoted cutting edge technological development as a leading company in the information communication industry. For this reason, we own a vast number of patents.

NTT licenses its proprietary technologies so that they can be used broadly by all for the benefit of the telecommunications market as well as other markets. For example, as part of our initiatives for standardization, we efficiently promote the spread of technology by licensing patents on standardizations to many companies through various patent pools.

  • Participation in Intellectual Property Matching Events Organized by Local Governments and Organizations
    In an effort to help vitalize regional business structures, we actively participate in intellectual property (IP) matching events sponsored by local governments to offer licensing agreements that enable local companies to use NTT's proprietary technologies in developing their own products. In the case of a company based in Kawasaki City, Kanagawa Prefecture, we signed a licensing agreement through a matching event organized by Kawasaki City and the Kawasaki Institute of Industrial Promotion that has enabled the company to use NTT's patented technology to provide a new service starting in 2019. We are committed to continue contributing to the vitalization of regional economies through this initiative.

Model for Regional Revitalization through Intellectual Property Matching Events Hosted by Local Governments and Others

  • IP Open Access Declaration Against COVID-19
    Recognizing the need to contain the spread of COVID-19, the NTT Group expressed its consistent support for the IP Open Access Declaration Against COVID-19 in May 2020 and declared that it will "not assert any patent, utility model, design or copyright (hereinafter referred to as the "Intellectual Property Rights") against any individual or other entity during the period starting with the date of this declaration and ending on the date on which the World Health Organization declares that the COVID-19 outbreak no longer constitutes a Public Health Emergency of International Concern, with respect to activities whose sole purpose is stopping the spread of COVID-19, such as diagnosis, prevention, containment, and treatment of COVID-19."

NTT discloses its licensing policy and procedures along with detailed information on its R&D activities and technological licenses.