Japan's Softbank to launch 110Mbps mobile router next week

The carrier said a monthly 5GB data plan on its LTE network will cost about US$64

Japan's Softbank Mobile said Wednesday it will launch a new mobile router next week providing download speeds of up to 110Mbps on its LTE network.

The company said the modem, made by Huawei Technologies, will also allow uploads at up to 10Mbps, and will launch under a plan that will cost subscribers about ¥5,000 (US$64) per month. The plan will throttle total data transfers after 5GB per month, and will require that users also have a smartphone or tablet contract. Softbank is one of two carriers in Japan to offer the iPhone.

The soap-bar size modem from Huawei can provide a Wi-Fi connection to up to 10 devices at the same time. It has a 3,000mAh battery and can also be used as a network drive via memory cards plugged into its microSD slot, which supports cards up to 64GB in size.

If users go over their 5GB monthly limit, they can buy additional 2GB-chunks of data for ¥2,625 each, or their service speed will be dropped to 128kbps.

Softbank is moving aggressively to shed its reputation for inferior network quality, and earlier this month announced a US$2 billion deal to acquire rival carrier eAccess. The company had previously announced major investments in strengthening its network and obtained additional bandwidth from the government in recent years.

The operator is led by its charismatic CEO and founder Masayoshi Son, who negotiated to have his company be the first in Japan to offer the iPhone. The phone was a massive boost, but has also been a strain on its data network.

Softbank first announced its high-speed network last year, and in February launched a modem that provides download speeds of 76Mbps.

It competes with Japan's largest operator, NTT DoCoMo, which offers the rival Samsung Galaxy S3 and Note devices and launched its LTE network back in 2010.

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Jay Alabaster

IDG News Service

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