DoCoMo to spend $4b on LTE over next five years

NTT DoCoMo plans to join the select club of LTE operators with a launch in the second half of next year.

The Japanese carrier, who was the first to rollout 3G in 2001, will spend 300-400 billion yen ($3.07-4.10 billion) over the next five years on its LTE network, Nikkei reported.

It will be Asia’s first commercial LTE deployment. TeliaSonera and Verizon will also offer LTE service and AT&T will start trials next year.

The company plans to have 20,000 LTE base stations by 2014, covering 50% of the population, president Ryuji Yamada told an industry conference.

The company will introduce data-only LTE models in 2010, and voice-capable devices the following year.

Ericsson and TeliaSonera unveiled what they said was the world’s first commercial LTE site in Stockholm last month.

Despite the aggressive rollout plans, LTE is still a work in progress, with voice quality a serious issue.