CHICAGO--Japanese operator KDDI is planning to deploy LTE but will continue to use its existing CDMA network to handle voice traffic. During a keynote discussion at 4G World, Hideo Okinaka, vice president and general manager of emerging technologies and spectrum division at KDDI, said that the company has 20 MHz of spectrum for LTE and is currently working on specifications so that the network will fall back to 1X for incoming voice calls during a data session over LTE.
KDDI plans to commercially launch LTE in 2012. The operator--which competes with NTT DoCoMo, which wants to roll out LTE as fast as possible--plans to roll out the network in both the 1.5 GHz and 800 MHz bands. KDDI's goal is to provide national mobile broadband coverage to 96.5 percent of the country by the end of 2014.
Interestingly, KDDI also operates a WiMAX network, and Okinaka said that the company currently gets 30 Mbps downlink speeds and is planning to upgrade to 802.16m. Although there are many similarities between WiMAX and LTE in terms of performance, Okinaka said that KDDI has found that the biggest differences that exist between the two are in the device management. WiMAX makes it easier to have over-the-air device activation.
Okinaka also outlined several key challenges that he believes are ahead for the industry. In particular, he sounded the familiar refrain from carriers that spectrum constraints will likely impede growth and cause operators to rethink their unlimited data plans. However, he added that backhaul capacity is also a concern, noting that as bandwidth demands increase, backhaul capacity needs will also increase and he predicted that backhaul bottlenecks could impede LTE deployments.
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