updated 12:25 pm EST, Thu December 17, 2009
NTT DoCoMo builds 4G stations, due in late 2010
NTT DoCoMo, Japan's largest cellular provider, announced on Thursday that it has began upgrading its local network to support high-speed, 4G Long Term Evolution (LTE) data services. The 4G services should be available before the end of 2010, and the provider is already building new WCDMA (3G) base stations that contain newly developed remote radios that will support both the current WCDMA network and upcoming LTE service. These stations represent about half of all of the initially planned LTE base stations.
The remote radios are connected to other base stations located in other locations using fiber optic cables. This will allow a single station to serve a larger area without expanding its footprint. The other half of the stations will be existing ones that are upgraded to support the new 4G network. Remote radios also have the benefit of reduced weight, size and energy use.
DoCoMo's LTE service will use the 2GHz band, one of two radio bands it already uses for 3G service, for the hybrid WCDMA/LTE service. This will provide users with the large coverage area of 3G and the high speeds offered by the 4G technology.
With its 4G network, NTT DoCoMo promises to eventually deliver download speeds as fast as 300Mbps and uploads of 75Mbps, or nearly 40 times faster than the current download speed of the carrier's current offering. At the beginning, the network will likely offer slower speeds. As an example, TeliaSonera began offering commercial LTE services in Stockholm and Oslo this week, with peak download speeds as fast as 80Mbps.