Japanese operator NTT DoCoMo made good on its promise to launch LTE service in December. The operator became the first Japanese operator to offer services based on the next-generation technology, launching commercial service on Dec. 24.
Called Xi, the service is available in Tokyo, Nagoya and Osaka, and NTT DoCoMo plans to expand the service to cover 70 percent of Japan's population by the spring of 2015. Like Verizon Wireless' (NYSE:VZ) service, NTT DoCoMo's service is for data connectivity via PC dongles. But unlike Verizon, the operator won't introduce LTE handsets until March 2012. Verizon has indicated LTE handsets will become available in mid-2011.
NTT DoCoMo said the service offers downlink speeds of up to 37.5 Mbps and uplink speeds of up to 12.5 Mbps. According to the operator, it will have spent some $400 million on 1,000 LTE base stations that will cover 7 percent of the Japanese population by March 2011. By March 2013, it anticipates spending $3.6 billion on 15,000 base stations to cover 40 percent of the population.
Operating at 2 GHz, the network includes dual-mode WCDMA/LTE base stations, the core network equipment and LTE-enabled mobile devices. Some of DoCoMo's existing W-CDMA base stations are already LTE equipped and can be upgraded to LTE by adding LTE base station digital equipment. NTT DoCoMo plans to offer LTE handsets integrated with 3G voice calling.
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