NTT DoCoMo, Japan’s largest mobile provider, serving over 60 million mobile customers in Japan, said Friday it will soon launch the world’s first femtocells to support both 3G and LTE.
Femtocells are the smallest microcells, usually installed in homes, serving 3-4 users at a time. When cellular coverage inside homes is lacking, a femtocell enables users to maintain their cellular connection.
NTT DoCoMo says 3G smartphone users consume eight times more data a month than users of i-mode handsets, and that LTE smartphone users consume nine times more data than 3G users.
All three of Japan’s major operators have now launched LTE.
- DoCoMo said it passed 6 million LTE users in September, and recently launched a campaign that provides the service at no basic charge for two years to customers that have been with the carrier for at least 10 years. Their LTE “Xi” service covers 70% of the population in Japan, with FOMA providing coverage for 100% of the population. The company serves over 60 million mobile customers in Japan.
- KDDI has over 40 million subscribers. It offers the au mobile phone service, using 3G CDMA2000 and 4G with UQ WiMax service. KDDI launched LTE service with the iPhone 5 on September 21 and plan to have 98% poulation coverage by March 2013. For now, the 2100 MHz band will be specific to the iPhone, but other handsets will use it as well.
- Softbank counts 30 million subscribers in Japan. They recently agreed to purchase Sprint, and in a separate deal in October acquired smaller Japanese carrier eAccess. Softbank awarded Huawei and ZTE construction contracts for their TD-LTE network. Huawei will build 7,000 basestations and ZTE 4,600 basestations this year. Softbank expects one million TD-LTE subscribers by the end of 2012; with TD-LTE base stations to reach 30,000 by March 2013. Softbank’s 2.6 GHz TD-LTE network will cover 90% of the area and population in Japan by the end of 2013.
Softbank now has the most hotspots of all Japanese carriers. In September 2012, the company counted more than 310,000 hotspots, while KDDI had 200,000 and DoCoMo had only 43,000, according to Softbank’s figures.
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