Feature Article

November 16, 2011

NTT DoCoMo to Roll Out LTE; Still Hankering for an iPhone

Good news for Japanese cellular customers: wireless company NTT DoCoMo Inc. has announced that it plans to spend a total of 880 billion yen ($11 billion) on the rollout of 4G LTE (long term evolution) networks in the next few years. The company plans to begin introducing a line of LTE-enabled smartphones early next year.

The LTE rollout happen over the next few years, to be finished in 2015, said NTT DoCoMo President and Chief Executive Ryuji Yamada said during a mobile conference in Hong Kong on Wednesday, according to Reuters.

NTT DoCoMo has 58 million subscribers in Japan, making it the country's predominant wireless company. It's trailed by KDDI, which has 34.9 million subscribers and SoftBank with 27.1 million subscribers.

Also this week, the company confirmed that it's still interested in pursuing the the possibility of introducing the Apple iPhone to its subscriber base, confirmed CEO Yamada in an interview with Dow Jones Newswires and published on Total Telecom, though there are hurdles to overcome first.

“We haven't given up our hope of introducing the iPhone,” but Apple typically asks carriers to commit a large volume, said Yamada in the interview earlier this week. “If the introduction of the iPhone results in the mass majority of our products occupied by the iPhone, then that's a scenario that's difficult to us to swallow,” he said.

Apple's closed operating system will prevent the company from pre-installing some its own applications on any iPhones it might offer: applications such e-wallet, which allows consumers to pay for goods and services with their smartphones, or the NTT DoCoMo's proprietary i-mode e-mail service. Yamada said these features are important to Japanese customers.

Tracey Schelmetic is a contributing editor for MobilityTechzone. To read more of Tracey's articles, please visit her columnist page.

Edited by Jennifer Russell

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