interview


Executive adviser, KDDI, Japan: “Hetnets are a key technology to efficiently utilise spectrum resources”

Fumio Watanabe, executive adviser, KDDI & corporate officer CTO, UQ Communications, Japan

Fumio Watanabe, executive adviser, KDDI & corporate officer CTO, UQ Communications, Japan is delivering the opening keynote on Day One of the LTE Asia conference, taking place on the 18th-19th September 2013 at the Suntec, Singapore. Ahead of the show we get an insight into how KDDI compares to its rivals.

How has your LTE network developed over the past year?

Unlike the usual approach of launching services with limited coverage, KDDI adopted a far more aggressive strategy when it launched LTE services in September 2012. KDDI aimed to solicit the advantages of LTE by starting with a wide nationwide coverage on Day One and by rolling out the network at a faster pace than had ever been achieved elsewhere. Eight months after the service launched, the population coverage using the 800MHz band reached 97 per cent as of May 2013 and will be further expanded to 99 per cent by the end of FY2013 (Total 3G/LTE subscriptions: 38.6 million as of July 2013 ).

KDDI’s approach to deploying LTE is not a mere implementation of LTE, but is truly unique and ambitious. By introducing LTE in multiple bands (800MHz, 1.5GHz and 2.1GHz) at the initial launch, we have secured the capacity and coverage as well as compatibility with global handsets, while saving the cost associated with network deployment.

KDDI carried out a number of new innovative developments to integrate multiple radio systems (CDMA1X, eHRPD, and LTE) and equipment by multiple vendors into one unified network, in order to improvement the customer experience. A unified packet scheduler implemented in eNodeBs by different vendors helps us to fully utilise the network capacity and performance. The centralized SON is essential for reliable and efficient operation.

eCSFB was employed to set up phone calls faster than the conventional CDMA1X. LTE services are made available on eHRPD outside the LTE coverage and the interruption associated with handover from LTE to eHPRD is minimised by optimized handover technology. These are innovative features that have been put into commercial service for the first time.

What is your timeline for implementing LTE Advanced technologies?

KDDI has been evaluating LTE-Advanced features in the field and/or in the labs in order to identify their potential benefit and associated issues to be brought by these features. The exact timeline to implement respective LTE-Advanced feature on a commercial basis is yet to be announced.

How is KDDI managing the transition from WiMax to LTE?

KDDI has implemented WiMAX on some handsets in order to complement network capacity. KDDI has been using WiMAX as a MVNO, however, the WiMAX network itself is operated by separate company, UQ Communications, and KDDI is not in a position to comment on the transition from WiMAX to LTE.

The LTE Asia conference is taking place on the 18th-19th September 2013 at the Suntec, Singapore. Click here to download a brochure for the event.

Where do innovative technologies such as Hetnets fit into your plan?

KDDI considers Hetnets to be one of the key technologies required to efficiently utilise limited spectrum resources. KDDI has been deploying LTE Pico cells from the initial service launch in order to augment network capacity in hot spots and/or in order to fill in coverage holes of macro cells, which is an illustration of KDDI’s positive approach to Hetnets. KDDI is going to seek further enhancement of spectrum efficiency in deploying Hetnets, by coordinating interference between macro cells and pico cells, or between pico cells.

When are you looking at introducing VoLTE and what will the benefits be?

KDDI has been evaluating VoLTE in the field as well as in the labs, but the exact timeline to provide VOLTE service is yet to be announced. One of the benefits of introducing VoLTE is that the network will be integrated into a single LTE data network by immigrating voice traffic from conventional circuit based network (CDMA2000 1X) to LTE. It is anticipated that the cost associated with network capital expenditure and OAM as well as handsets will thereby be reduced.

How does your strategy differ from your rivals?

According to KDDI’s corporate strategy called “3M strategy”, which stands for Multi-use, Multi-device and Multi-network, KDDI has been in pursuit of creating an environment where a customer can enjoy ones favourite content using a device of one’s choice over the most appropriate access means. Radio technologies (LTE, CDMA2000, WiMAX and Wi-Fi) as well as fixed network (FTTH/CATV) comprising “smart” access network are combined seamlessly to enable handover without making customers conscious of it.

Under the “3M strategy”, a variety of services are offered over smartphone and other fixed-line appliances. Those services include packages of applications, videos, books and music, which can be enjoyed at a fixed rate. In these services, a single ID is used for the convenience of customers.

In association with FTTH/CATV operators nationwide, a special incentive tariff called “Smart Value” is applied to smartphone users signing up a fixed-line service.

As proof of this unique strategy, KDDI is ranked number one among Japanese mobile operators in the customer satisfaction survey conducted by J.D. Power and in 2012 KDDI acquired more than one million customers churning from other operators in Japan.

What are you hoping to get out of attending and speaking at the LTE Asia conference?

We wish to share our unique approach and strategy upon LTE service launch and to introduce testimony of customer satisfaction of our service offerings.


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