Softbank adding FDD-LTE to its 3G and TD-LTE arsenal

Softbank Mobile, which already operates a network that is compatible with the TD-LTE standard, intends to launch FDD-LTE networks built by Nokia Siemens Networks and Ericsson this fall.

NSN said it will build an FDD-LTE network for Softbank as well as expand the Japanese operator's existing HSPA+ network to enable new services using the recently allocated 900 MHz frequency band. NSN will work on networks covering rural areas and major cities including Sapporo, Sendai and Fukuoka. Ericsson subsequently announced that it had been selected to work on Softbank's FDD-LTE networkin the Tomeihan area, which includes Japan's biggest cities of Tokyo, Osaka and Nagoya, where it will upgrade the operator's packet core network, including systems integration and deployment of an evolved packet core (EPC) solution, and build a new LTE radio access network using RBS 6000 multi-standard base stations.

Softbank, which has some 28 million customers, last month selected Ericsson to deploy an Evolved HSPA radio access network for the 900 MHz band. That network is to feature Ericsson's RBS 6000 multi- standard radio base stations, also in the Tomeihan area.

Softbank will employ NSN's Flexi Multiradio base station for both the FDD-LTE network and HSPA+ network expansion. NSN's FlexiPacket Microwave platform will provide backhaul transport. In addition, NSN will be providing support services for Softbanks' LTE rollout, including network implementation and system integration. On the HSPA+ side, NSN will provide site acquisition services. NSN said it will also update its network management system NetAct to enable consolidated monitoring, management and optimization of Softbank's LTE and HSPA+ networks.

"We are committed to providing people with the best mobile internet experience through the launch of 4G, using FDD-LTE, and enhanced, nationwide, HSPA+ network coverage," said Junichi Miyakawa, Softbanks' executive vice president, director and CTO.

In February, Softbank launched Softbank 4G, a mobile broadband network that is said to offer maximum download speeds up to 76Mbps, with future support for 110 Mbps. The network 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.

The network was first announced in October 2011, when it was disclosed that Chinese equipment manufacturers Huawei and ZTE had both won contracts for the network, while Ericsson (NASDAQ:ERIC) was selected to build the next-generation packet core.

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.

For more:
- see this Nokia Siemens release
- see this Ericsson release
- see this article
- see Cellular-News article

Related articles:
DoCoMo LTE network exceeds 2M subs thanks to smartphones
EMobile inaugurates Japan's second LTE network
Paolini: TDD innovation in the RAN
Mallinson: LTE is bringing a mobile broadband revolution
Japan's Softbank to build TD-LTE compatible network

Article updated April 18, 2012, to reflect Ericsson's announcement that it had signed an LTE contract with Softbank.