NTT DoCoMo flirts with mobile WiMax

They love WiMax, they love it not...
Written by Jo Best, Contributor

They love WiMax, they love it not...

Japan's NTT DoCoMo is eyeing a WiMax network.

The mobile operator has said it has applied for a licence from the Japanese ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications to run a test WiMax network.

The outdoor network will be set up in the Yogiyo area of Tokyo for one year and will be run by DoCoMo and other NTT companies. The network will use the 802.16e standard, also known as the mobile variant of WiMax.

According to the telco, the experimental network will allow it to get to grips with several elements of the relatively new long-range broadband technology.

DoCoMo will be looking into throughput of the technology and how WiMax works with mobile handsets and devices moving at speed, and how it can integrate with satellite broadband. The telco will also examine how to distribute base stations to get the best results.

Charles Moon, senior analyst in Yankee Group's Asia-Pacific mobile and wireless division, said DoCoMo's interest in WiMax is likely to be an extension of its research into 4G rather than a commitment to rolling out the technology any time soon.

He said: "There's almost as much buzz about [WiMax] as there was about 3G. It's inevitable DoCoMo will want to look at this technology and, as a responsibility to their shareholders, to see how competitive these solutions are. I don't see them bringing out another competing technology [to mobile] when they're launching their HSDPA network later this year."

DoCoMo is not the first of the country's telecoms operators to get involved with mobile WiMax. KDDI announced earlier this month that it will be setting up a network around Osaka.

The wireless standard has also been attracting the interest of fixed line broadband players. Telco Yozan has launched a $17m network with WiMax network equipment maker Airspan.

The network, in the Tokyo area, is aimed at laptop users and will be expanded to two more Japanese cities this year.

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