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NTT Docomo Launching LTE Wireless

Japan's largest carrier will offer data-only plans in three major cities when the 4G service debuts in December.

Xi LTE Data Terminal
(click image for larger view)
Xi LTE Data Terminal

NTT Docomo, Japan's largest carrier, on Monday announced that "Xi" (or "Crossy"), the country's first wireless long-term evolution (LTE) service, will be launched on Dec. 24.

Xi will provide a maximum downlink speed of 75-Mbps mobile data communication, which NTT Docomo said is about 10 times as fast as its current FOMA 3G service. The service will be offered first in the Tokyo, Nagoya, and Osaka areas, to be followed by other major cities and regions. The carrier is investing 270 billion yen or $3.3 billion in LTE over the next two years.

A PC with an LTE modem attached reached streaming data at about 56 Mbps during a demonstration of the service Monday in central Tokyo.

The carrier said it will start selling a USB L-02C as its first Xi data terminal to connect to mobile computers for high-performance mobile gaming and video streaming at "extra-fast, optical-fiber-like speeds." In April a Fujitsu Express Card modem will also be available for mobile video streaming and live videoconferencing at speeds "similar to optical-fiber connection," NTT Docomo said. Both modems will also provide 3G service when LTE service is not available.

The service will provide only data at the outset, and two data plans will be offered: Xi Data Plan Ninen, and Xi Data Plan. A two-year contract is required for the "highly affordable" Xi Data Plan Ninen, which will cost between 1,000 and 6,510 yen (approximately $12-$80), including tax, for up to 5 gigabytes of data per month, the carrier said. An extra 2,625 yen (approximately $32), including tax, will be charged for each 2 GB over 5 GB. The maximum monthly charge for unlimited data using Xi Data Plan Ninen will be 4,935 yen (approximately $61), including tax, through April 2012 as a special introductory offer, the carrier said.

The carrier on Monday also announced that 28 new 3G mobile handsets in 72 colors -- its largest and most diverse collection -- will be available on or after Nov. 12.

NTT Docomo has over 56 million customers in Japan including 54 million currently using its 3G mobile service FOMA, based on W-CDMA, which was one of the first commercial 3G services offered globally.

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