Second Japanese carrier launches high-speed LTE mobile data network

EMobile, one of the country's smaller providers, offers unlimited 75Mbps downloads for about US$50 per month

EMobile, a Japanese mobile provider, on Thursday launched the country's second LTE network for high-speed mobile data access.

The company will offer unlimited data use on its network, which it says will offer download speeds of 75Mbps and uploads of 25Mbps, for ¥3,880 (US$47) with a two-year contract. The price includes a portable Wi-Fi router that can provide a wireless connection to up to 10 devices.

The service will be available in most of Japan's large cities, including Tokyo and Osaka, by June of this year. It will use the company's slower network, which provides downloads of up to 42 Mbps, when out of range.

Japan was once labeled a technology "Galapagos" because it evolved its own standards apart from the rest of the world. But domestic companies are increasingly adopting international standards, to cut down on development spending while lowering the cost of hardware products and infrastructure.

LTE, which stands for Long Term Evolution, is a leading candidate to become the worldwide standard for the next generation of mobile networks. It claims peak rates offering 100Mbps downloads and has been adopted by major carriers in the U.S., Europe and Asia. Japan's largest carrier, NTT DoCoMo, currently operates an LTE service under the brand name "Xi," pronounced "Crossy," which it launched at the end of 2010.

Last month, Japanese mobile provider Softbank launched its own high-speed network with a maximum download speed of 76Mbps, which it says will eventually support speeds of 110Mbps. That service is based on a format called AXGP, an advanced version of an older Japanese standard. Softbank has said it is "highly compatible" with TD-LTE, a Chinese flavor of LTE.

EMobile launched its first data service in 2007. It is a subsidiary of eAccess, which began as a fixed-line ADSL provider.

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Jay Alabaster

IDG News Service

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