DoCoMo kicks off LTE pre-launch

9 Jun 2010

Japan’s largest mobile operator by subscribers, NTT DoCoMo, has announced that pre-commercial tests to verify its 4G Long Term Evolution (LTE) network are underway in and around Tokyo, ahead of the scheduled full-blown commercial launch this December. 4G testing has begun to explore the network’s ability to cater for ‘speed, latency, stability of inter-cell handover and other conditions required for commercial operation.’ DoCoMo’s pre-launch pilot trials are using devices capable of handling data transfers of up to 100Mbps (downlink) and 50Mbps (uplink), although once live, the network is expected to realise average rates of 75Mbps and 25Mbps, respectively. The cellco hopes to start selling its first LTE-ready handsets in 2011 and although initial service coverage is for Tokyo-only, it expects to expand coverage to 50% of the population by 2014.