Fourth Generation (4G) wireless communications

1. What is fourth generation (4G) mobile?
At present the download speed for mobile internet connections in Japan are between 9.6 kbit/s for 2G cellular, up to 128 kbit/s for PHS, typically 200 kbit/s (nominally 384 kbps) for DoCoMo and Vodafone 3G cellular, and 2.4 Mbps for KDDI/AU CDMA2000-1x-WIN service. However, in actual use the data rates are usually slower, especially in crowded areas, or when the network is "congested". 4G mobile data transmission rates are planned to be up to 20 megabits per second.

Read more about the two waves of 3G introduction in Japan: our 3G FAQ (html) and our 3G report (pdf-file for download). In our 3G report you will find a lot of market data for Japans 3G market (20 million 3G subscribers in Japan in July 2004), which will give you a good idea about what 4G might look like in the future.

2. What is DoCoMo's MOTO-Media?
NTT-DoCoMo and Hewlett-Packard have announced that the two companies are jointly developing technologies for 4G wireless communications. They have named the technology platform: MOTO-Media.

3. When will 4G (broadband) mobile communications being introduced in Japan?
Initially DoCoMo planned to introduce 4G services around 2010. Recently DoCoMo announced plans to introduce 4G services from 2006, i.e. four years earlier than previously planned.

4. What will the data rates be for 4G (broadband mobile) in Japan?
At present (2G) imode data rates in Japan are up to 9.6 kbit/sec, but usually a lot slower, and 28.2kbps for 504i, 505i, 506i handsets (since May 2002). For 3G (FOMA) data rates are at present around 200kbps (download) and 64kbps (upload) and will in the future be upgraded to 10 Mbit/sec. KDDI/AU offers 2.4 Mbit/s since December 2003. For 4G data rates up to 20 Megabytes per second are planned. This is about 2000 times faster than present (year 2001) mobile data rates, and about 10 times faster than top transmission rates planned in the final build out of 3G broadband mobile. It is about 10-20 times faster than standard ASDL services, which are being introduced for internet connections over traditional copper cables at this time (2001).

5. What type of services will 4G allow?
Of course it is impossible to predict technology developments and the evolution of culture and customer needs. 4G in principle will allow high-quality smooth video transmission.

6. Is video really a killer application for 3G and 4G?
Usage data in Japan do not show that video telephony is a real killer application for 3G. However, this may change if quality and market penetration improves or different marketing models are found. We believe however that music is a killer application - compare for example the success of iPod. At the moment (3G) only very short music clips can be downloaded. 4G is likely to enable the download of full length songs or music pieces which may change the market response dramatically. Music rights management will be a major issue to solve.
Posted by Blackred, Tuesday, February 13, 2007 8:50 AM

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