A report in The Nikkei suggests that NTT DoCoMo is planning to lease access to its Long Term Evolution (LTE) network to other companies as early as this autumn. As it stands, DoCoMo’s 4G network is offering data transmission speeds of up to 37.5Mbps, a figure which is expected to rise to 100Mbps in 2014. DoCoMo is reported to already be in negotiations with Japan Communications, which hopes to join forces with consumer electronics manufacturers to commercialise LTE-ready devices like personal computers, tablet computers and game consoles. Japan Communications plans to offer diverse rate structures, including pre-paid plans and time-based tariff.
According to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database, DoCoMo switched on the new network – branded ‘Xi’ (read as ‘crossy’) – on 24 December 2010, in the major urban centres of Tokyo, Nagoya and Osaka. It is currently offering LTE data-only services for computer users, although it has revealed plans to introduce LTE-compatible handsets and voice-over-LTE services by late-2011 or at the latest March 2012. In most outdoor areas, transmission speeds are up to 37.5Mbps (downlink) and 12.5Mbps (uplink), but in heavily used indoor areas, such as the terminals at Tokyo International Airport, customers can enjoy up to 75Mbps (downlink). At the end of May DoCoMo claimed 72,600 LTE users.