According to multiple sources the Communications Ministry has approved business plans for 3.9G services submitted by four Japanese telecom operators; DoCoMo, KDDI, SoftBank Mobile and eMobile, with service roll-outs beginning in September 2010 through late 2012. The combined investments to build base stations, service equipment and related facilities for these new networks are forecast to top 1 Trillion JPY, or approx. $10 Billion, by 2014.
According to the Nikkei:
DoCoMo has slated 343 billion yen for the investment, while KDDI and the Softbank Corp. (9984) unit have budgeted 515 billion yen and 207.3 billion yen, respectively. Among the four, 3.9G services are forecast to attract around 36 million subscribers, with DoCoMo projecting 17.74 million 3.9G customers. DoCoMo, KDDI and Softbank Mobile expect roughly 30% of their existing customers to switch to 3.9G services.
There was no mention regarding spectrum, however, KDDI announced separately – in Japanese – ministry approval for 800Mhz and 1.5GHz band to enable LTE 3.9G launch from November 2011.
Update June 16
As we had mentioned back in May, all players are geared up for major network infrastructure work towards LTE. As expected MIC has approved the application plans [JPN] and the sharp folks at Re-Think Wireless have a good overview on the details.
Japan has made a major step towards LTE, with the Communications Ministry approving the business plans submitted by the four mobile operators and set to open up new spectrum by year end. These will involve investment in networks totaling one trillion yen over five years (over $11bn).
The largest cellco, NTT DoCoMo, has repeatedly said it plans to roll out LTE at an early stage, and at one time was even considering some deployments by the end of 2009, possibly using pre-standard equipment derived from its long-running ‘Super3G’ R&D project. However, it now seems that the company will start work in mid-2010, which makes it likely that it will go with fully standard equipment, rather than repeating its 3G experience, when it adopted its own version of W-CDMA, called FOMA. Such a move will enable DoCoMo to tap into the global LTE ecosystem as that develops, rather than being over-dependent on its Japanese suppliers, as it is in 3G. The market leader recently gave its strongest indication yet that it would come out of its wireless bunker and take advantage of global standards when it formed an alliance with Telefonica for joint handset purchasing and other activities.
It’s certainly going to be interesting..