Japanese telecoms operator KDDI (au) has announced plans to upgrade its 4G Long Term Evolution (LTE) network to a maximum download speed of 100Mbps. The upgrade will be launched in some areas of Japan’s fourth-largest island Shikoku this month, subsequently expanding to offer nationwide coverage from the third quarter onwards. KDDI’s subsidiary Okinawa Cellular Telephone Company is also included in the rollout.
According to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database, KDDI’s LTE-based services were introduced in September 2012 to coincide with the launch of the new iPhone 5 handset. KDDI is using both the 800MHz and 2100MHz bands for its LTE network. The firm has come in for criticism, however, after failing to live up to its initial promises for 4G coverage. Although advertising at the time of the LTE launch had forecast 96% population coverage for 75Mbps services on iPhone 5 (2100MHz/700MHz CDMA/LTE model) devices by end-March 2013, at that date it was found by Japan’s Consumer Affairs Agency that specific coverage levels for 75Mbps iPhone 5 services had reached just 14%. It transpired that the stated plans for expansion to 96% applied only to Android LTE smartphones (using KDDI’s 800MHz/1500MHz frequencies). In a new update on LTE coverage, KDDI has confirmed that by the start of June 2013 its 800MHz band 4G network (offering ‘mainly’ 75Mbps top speeds) covered 97% of the population; LTE in the 2100MHz band by that date offered 71% of the population top speeds ‘mainly’ reaching 37.5Mbps, while a 2100MHz network peak speed of 75Mbps was available to 20% of the population.