UQ awards WiMAX contract to NEC

12 May 2009

Japanese WiMAX start-up UQ Communications has selected NEC Corp to supply it with 802.16e base stations in the country. NEC did not disclose the value of the deal, nor the number of base stations it is deploying in UQ’s network; however, the deal is a major boost for the Japanese vendor’s recently developed PasoWings BS202 mobile WiMAX base station product. The NEC product is described as the world’s first WiMAX base station equipped with UL-BF (uplink-beamforming) technologies, which are used to improve communications speed and increase base station coverage area by reducing radio frequency interference between base stations and data transmission terminals.

UQ has been conducting a series of WiMAX service trials in Tokyo (all 23 wards), Yokohama and Kawasaki since February this year, using some 600 Samsung base stations, which are compliant to WiMAX Forum Wave-2 Phase-2 specifications. The operator says that it has been achieving, on average, 16Mbps (downlink) and up to 3.9Mbps (uplink) during the trials, with a maximum downlink connection of 40Mbps. UQ, which is backed by the likes of KDDI and Intel, plans to launch commercial services on 1 July 2009. It has an aggressive WIMAX rollout schedule with a target of achieving more than 90% population coverage nationwide by 31 March 2013. At that date the newcomer aims to have 1,161 cities covered through 38,000 base stations, which includes 19,000 indoor base stations (femtocells). UQ’s backers initially capitalised the company to the tune of USD170 million but in March this year they announced a second round of funding worth USD300 million which should be enough to ensure the company meets its WiMAX rollout targets for fiscal year 2009/10.

Japan, NEC, UQ Communications