NTT Docomo Moving to LTE with Alcatel-Lucent

Next Generation Communications Blog

NTT Docomo Moving to LTE with Alcatel-Lucent

As any mobile operator will attest, the key to success today is staying ahead of the curve with regards to network reliability and, perhaps more importantly, service delivery. Certainly, when you consider the North American market, you see significant innovation on the application side, especially with the continued rollout of new 3G handsets. 


The focus, though is on the application, and how users can use their devices and the applications that run on them to create more efficient business and personal communications relationships.


But, if you head across the globe, the view is slightly different. It's well known that Japan and other APAC countries are well ahead of North American with their mobile technology, a fact that is underscored by the mantra TMC heard during a recent visit to NTT America, the Japanese mobile giant's North American subsidiary: "Ask not what you can do for your cell phone, but what your cell phone can do for you."


In other words, in addition to delivering new applications and services, the ultimate goal is to create a situation where the mobile device has a certain level of intelligence, such that it becomes a real-time part of users' daily lives, providing information and assistance without necessarily being prompted. The idea is to leverage the mobile network's strength to its fullest capacity -- a network that currently allows up to 7.2 Mbps download.


This approach, which focuses on the customer and not the device, is founded on the understanding that the customer is God -- loosely translated from a Japanese saying. Carriers like NTT Docomo understand that subscribers have a choice, and rather than handcuffing them with multi-year contracts, they adopt the approach that if they are able to provide the services and the network capacity and reliability, they will be successful.


On the network side, NTT Docomo has already been investing heavily in its infrastructure to ensure its service quality is as good as it can be. It also made a commitment some time ago to roll out its LTE network in 2010 to further extend its capabilities as new, bandwidth-intensive services are developed.


In order to facilitate that network migration, NTT Docomo has selected Alcatel-Lucent to build its backhaul network for its LTE-based services using the French-American firm's Ethernet transmission solution. 


Alcatel-Lucent, of course, was squarely in the LTE spotlight earlier this year, when Verizon Wireless, the largest U.S. mobile operator, named it one of the key network infrastructure vendors for its LTE development. A key difference, though, is that, while LTE-based networks are said to be able to deliver speeds of up to 100 Mbps on the downlink, NTT Docomo's target is to triple that figure with what it calls a Super 3G network -- a deviation from the 4G moniker that has become popular in referencing LTE, as well as WiMAX.


"This selection is a strong endorsement of our innovation and forward-looking capabilities as we work closely with NTT DOCOMO to support its next generation backhaul network and its LTE strategy," said Sean Dolan, head of Alcatel-Lucent's activities in Asia-Pacific.  "Our solution is further proving its readiness to meet the challenges of current and future network requirements which enable users to consume more complex content at faster speeds."


With the solution from Alcatel-Lucent -- part of the company's Mobile Evolution Transport Architecture (META), based on its 1850 Transport Service Switch -- NTT Docomo will gain high-speed, flexible Ethernet-based aggregation and transport between base stations and its core network. It is designed to provide a cost-effective migration path to all-IP backhaul networks using a combination of packet and optical technologies -- required to handle increased service penetration and higher speed requirements.


With the new backhaul capacity and management capabilities, NTT Docomo will be able to more effectively deliver high-speed, bandwidth intensive services and applications reliably and securely.


Some of the fastest growing mobile services include video applications, which NTT Docomo already delivers on its existing 3G network, and which Hisao Inagawa, senior vice president at NTT Docomo USA,  says is a key area for increasing value to existing subscribers and attracting new ones.


The next phase of video, of course, is delivering high quality live mobile TV, which is all about increasing network capacity and developing relationships with content providers. With its LTE partnership with Alcatel-Lucent now in place, the path to that evolving its 3G network infrastructure to a true next generation communications network is in place, and the services are only a matter of time. That evolution or migration ­-- as opposed to a replacement model -- is one of the key selling points of LTE, and is a key part of Alcatel-Lucent's wireless strategy and, more specifically, its Ultimate Wireless Broadband End-to-End LTE Solution, as more and more mobile operators solidify their plans for the future.

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