NTT DoCoMo plans LTE launch

NTT DoCoMo plans to launch high-speed cellular data services based on LTE (Long Term Evolution) technology in December 2010, it said Thursday.

LTE is an IP-based system seen as a replacement for 3G-based HSPA (High Speed Packet Access) and its introduction is expected to reduce the per-byte cost of data communications.

The Japanese service will initially be aimed at PC users, with DoCoMo offering card-type terminals for laptops, said Ryuji Yamada, president and CEO of NTT DoCoMo at a Tokyo news conference. It will be expanded to include handset terminals from 2011, he said. Those terminals will be dual-mode devices that use LTE networks where available and fall back to 3G networks to provide nationwide coverage.

By 2014 the carrier plans to provide LTE service to 50 per cent of Japan from around 20,000 base stations. DoCoMo plans to invest between ¥300 billion and ¥400 billion (US$3.2 billion to $4.2 billion) during the first five years of the roll-out, said Yamada.

NTT DoCoMo was the first carrier in the world to launch a commercial 3G wireless service based on WCDMA but based on its LTE roll-out it will likely be beaten this time around by carriers in other countries.

Verizon Wireless has said it plans to launch a 60Mbps trial LTE service in two U.S. cities in late 2009, to be followed by a commercial service in 2010. European carriers are also getting behind the technology with several tests under way or planned on the continent. TeliaSonera has said it will build a commercial LTE network in Stockholm, Sweden, and in Oslo, Norway.

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