Japan’s largest cellco in terms of subscribers NTT DoCoMo has announced that its new compact LTE/3G base stations entered commercial service throughout the company’s 4G and 3G networks this month. The compact all-weather base stations, measuring less than 1/10th the size and less than 1/5th the weight of conventional LTE base stations, are designed for deployment in low-traffic and difficult to access locations. The new equipment, which can act as a master station, allows for simultaneous LTE and 3G traffic by utilising its secondary posts and multiple frequency bands. Despite the advantage it offers due to the small size (approx. 24kg weight), the LTE gear offers inferior downlink and uplink in comparison to conventional LTE base stations. The equipment using LTE radio access technology can offer download speed of up to 75Mbps with up to 25Mbps uplink, in comparison to the conventional LTE base stations with downlink of up to 150Mbps and upload speed of up to 50Mbps.
According to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database, DoCoMo claimed 70% LTE population coverage by end-March 2013, with 24,400 LTE base stations in operation by that date. The coverage target for March 2014 is 80%, which is estimated to increase to 98% by end-March 2015. The company also plans to double the number of LTE base stations to 50,000 by 31 March 2014, and accelerate rollout of high speed areas, with the number of 75Mbps compatible base stations to reach 6,800 and a total of 100 cities to be offered network connections with 112.5Mbps downlink speed.