DoCoMo tops 1M LTE subs, plans 700 MHz rollout

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Japan's NTT DoCoMo announced an LTE milestone and shared its network expansion plans, which include LTE deployment on new 700 MHz spectrum.

DoCoMo said its Xi (pronounced "crossy") LTE service recently surpassed 10 million subscribers, doubling the 5 million customers served just six months earlier in August 2012.

DoCoMo is Japan's leading operator, with a subscriber market share of 47 percent at the end of December 2012, according to TeleGeography 's GlobalComms Database, which estimates LTE customers account for some 17 percent of DoCoMo's total wireless subscriber base.

DoCoMo launched its LTE network in December 2010. A recent report from OpenSignal said DoCoMo's LTE network has been averaging a dismal 5.5 Mbps speed rating, while rival Softbank delivered 16.2 Mbps and KDDI came in at 14.8 Mbps. OpenSignal indicated the dramatic difference probably reflects the age of DoCoMo's equipment. Softbank and KDDI did not launch their LTE networks till the autumn of 2012.

DoCoMo said it is continuing to expand LTE coverage and upgrade its network to offer higher data transmission speeds. It claims its current Xi network is capable of a maximum downlink speed of 100 Mbps and said it will make a 112.5 Mbps downlink available in 22 cities by March and more than 50 cities by June.

"LTE base stations offering a 75 Mbps downlink, double the current speed in many locations, will amount to 4,000 by March and then jump to 10,000 by June. DoCoMo also plans to introduce a 150 Mbps downlink service before March 2014," said the company.

In addition, DoCoMo is preparing to launch LTE service on newly allocated 700 MHz spectrum. In working toward that goal, operator has developed what is claims is Japan's first base station antenna that supports five frequency bands: 700 MHz, 800MHz, 1.5GHz, 1.7GHz and 2GHz.

"The company will soon begin installing 700MHz-compatible base stations in preparation for the new spectrum, which will become available for use in commercial LTE service in Japan from early 2015. The 700MHz band will help accommodate the expected rise in data traffic as mass users shift to LTE," said DoCoMo.

For more:
- see this DoCoMo release and this release
- see this Telegeography article

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