NTT DoCoMo reaches 10m LTE subs milestone

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Japanese operator working to increase LTE network coverage and speed; aims for 150-Mbps downlink service before March 2014.

NTT DoCoMo on Tuesday announced that its LTE customer base has surpassed the 10 million mark, subscriber numbers having doubled in the past six months.

The Japanese mobile operator said it reached its latest milestone on Monday, just over two years after it launched its Xi-branded LTE service. Xi (pronounced ‘crossy’) came to market on 24 December 2010 and signed up 1 million users in its first year. Subscribers reached 5 million in August 2012.

″Going forward, DoCoMo is determined to further enhance customer satisfaction with its extensive Xi device lineup and increasingly extra-high-speed service,″ the telco said in a statement.

On the network side, DoCoMo is working on expanding LTE coverage and has pledged to boost transmission speeds to 112.5 Mbps in the downlink in 22 cities by March and 50-plus cities by June. In addition, LTE base stations offering up to 75 Mbps downlink will number 4,000 by next month, rising to 10,000 by June.

The telco also aims to introduce a 150-Mbps downlink service before March 2014. DoCoMo’s LTE device portfolio comprises 32 smartphones, six tablets and seven data terminals. But the biggest talking point regarding its device offerings across its business remains its relationship – or lack thereof – with Apple.

In recent months the company has failed to match its main rivals Softbank and KDDI in terms of subscriber additions.

In January, DoCoMo recorded a net subscriber loss of 12,900, according to local industry body the Telecommunications Carriers Association, while smaller rival KDDI added 167,500 and third-placed Softbank again recorded the most net adds with 241,600. In November DoCoMo revealed that it had suffered its greatest ever net loss of subscribers – 40,800 jumped ship – which was also its first subscriber loss in more than five years. It blamed the popularity of the iPhone for customers moving to other networks. DoCoMo is reportedly in talks with Apple to bring the iPhone to its network.