NTT DoCoMo has gained more competition to its LTE network, with eMobile, the mobile unit of eAccess, launching an FDD-LTE service last week.
The eMobile FDD-LTE service promises maximum download speeds of 75 Mbps and maximum upload speeds of 25 Mbps in certain areas. Japan's first LTE operator, NTT DoCoMo, which launched its LTE service under the brand name Xi, pronounced "Crossy," during late 2010, currently advertises its FDD-LTE network as offering the same data speeds in certain areas. A rival network based on AXGP, which is loosely related to TD-LTE, was launched last month by Softbank and is said to offer maximum download speeds up to 76Mbps.
EMobile's LTE service costs 3,880 yen ($47) with a two-year contract and includes the purchase of a compatible Wi-Fi router that can link with up to 10 devices. For its new LTE service, the operator is initially offering two of what it calls "Pocket WiFi" series Wi-Fi router models and one USB stick-type model. DoCoMo has already moved past the dongle and router stage, having introduced both smartphones and tablets that work on its Xi LTE network.
According to eMobile, by end-June 2012 its LTE service area will cover 99 percent of the population in Japan's major cities, including Tokyo, Nagoya, and Osaka, but only 40 percent of the nation's overall POPs. The company plans to roll out service to other areas over time, allowing it to reach 70 percent of Japan's nationwide POPs by April 2013. Outside of LTE service areas, eMobile customers can access the company's older DC-HSDPA service, branded eMobile G4, which covers 93 percent of the population and offers download speeds up to 42 Mbps.
Last month, rival operator Softbank launched Softbank 4G, a mobile broadband network built by Huawei that is said to offer maximum download speeds up to 76Mbps, with future support for 110 Mbps. Softbank's new service is based on AXGP (Advanced eXtended Global Platform), a derivative of the old Willcom PHS (Personal Handyphone Service) network that has commonalities with TD-LTE. Softbank launched the AXGP service in Tokyo, Osaka and Fukuoka but has said it hopes to cover 99 percent of Japan's POPs by year's end. The service initially works with pocket-size modems.
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