NTT DoCoMo Plans $3.3 Billion LTE Investment

Two-year rollout of 4G technology will start in Tokyo, Osaka and Nagoya, Japan.

Esther Shein

October 29, 2010

2 Min Read
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NTT DoCoMo expects to roll out next-generation Long Term Evolution (LTE) cellular data service to major cities across Japan over the next two years and will spend 270 billion ($3.3 billion U.S.), the carrier said Friday.

The initial rollout will be in about 1,000 base stations in Tokyo, Osaka and Nagoya by the end of the year. DoCoMo will spend approximately 35 billion yen on the LTE deployment during the current fiscal year ending in March 2011, according to its FY2010 second-quarter statement. The carrier said it would announce details of its device/billing plans on Nov. 8.

LTE technology uses IP, the same protocol as the Internet, and is designed to increase the speed and capacity of mobile phone networks over what current 3G systems provide. Its LTE network will be able to support speeds of up to 75Mbps, NTT DoCoMo said. The specification provides at least 100-Mbit/s downlink peak rates and an uplink of at least 50 Mbits/s.

Carrier bandwidths are scalable with LTE from 1.4 MHz to 20 MHz. The main advantages of LTE are high throughput, low latency, plug-and-play, and Frequency-Division Duplexing (FDD) and Time-Division Duplexing (TDD) on the same platform. For carriers, there are lower operating costs due to a simple architecture; for consumers, there is a better end-user experience.

In the next fiscal year, beginning in April 2011, NTT DoCoMo is planning to add an additional 4,000 base stations and invest 100 billion yen, increasing coverage to 20% of the population, up from 7%.

A significant expansion will occur the following year, ending in March 2013 when NTT DoCoMo will add 15,000 base stations to expand coverage to 40% of Japan’s population, with an investment of 170 billion yen.

Personal computers with data modems will be the first to receive the LTE service. Around mid 2011, the carrier will launch a personal Wi-Fi hotspot, and then cell phones will receive LTE later in the year, IDG News Service reported.

Although NTT DoCoMo was the first carrier in the world to offer commercial 3G service, others have already launched LTE service. In December 2009, Teliasonera of Sweden rolled out a commercial LTE network and said 25 cities will have coverage by the end of 2010. In the U.S., MetroPCS, Verizon and AT&T have begun deploying or announced plans to launch a 4G LTE network.

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