Japan's maverick cell phone operator, Softbank, will become the first operator to commercially launch 3G femtocells early next year. The company said it will use femtocells from UK-based Ubiquisys and a supporting IMS core from NEC configured with a SIP server to independently control communications from femtocells.
Softbank, which is Japan's third largest mobile operator after NTT DoCoMo and KDDI, has been rapidly gaining market share from these two long-term incumbents by employing radically new pricing policies and innovative marketing initiatives. Commenting on the contract win, Chris Gilbert, CEO of Ubiquisys, said, "The Japanese market has always led the world in mobile technology so it comes as little surprise that Softbank is the first operator to deploy 3G femtocells."
Softbank, which made its entry in the mobile sector by acquiring Vodafone's struggling Japanese subsidiary, has been trialling femtocells for some time having announced earlier this year that it had completed the development of a potentially commercial system.
Whilst the US operator Sprint might justifiably claim to be the first to deploy femtocells, these units were only to support voice services, whereas Softbank will be the first to deploy 3G based devices.
Also of note was NEC's simultaneous announcement that it would invest in the US-based FMC technology specialist Kineto Wireless to strengthen its presence in the 3G femtocell mobile phone market.
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