Japan’s second-largest operator KDDI today revealed further plans for its launch of LTE networks, announcing Motorola and NEC as suppliers of radio access (base station) kit and declaring commercial availability by December 2012. Trials are scheduled to begin in mid 2010. The network will be deployed in both 1.5GHz and 800MHz spectrum bands, with 96.5 percent of the country covered by the end of 2014. The operator also plans to launch LTE-equipped mobile phones in time for commercial launch. According to a Reuters report, KDDI will spend roughly JPY500 billion (US$5.3 billion) on its LTE technology.

In December the operator announced it had chosen Hitachi and Nortel as LTE vendors for its core network (before Nortel filed for bankruptcy protection). Motorola’s first public order for LTE equipment is a major boost to the vendor’s LTE aspirations, especially in light of the fact the company had struggled to gain momentum in the WCDMA/HSPA radio access market. As an existing supplier of KDDI’s 2G/3G CDMA network, an LTE win would not have been taken for granted by the US vendor. KDDI will follow market-leader NTT Docomo in launching LTE networks. Docomo is expected to be one of the first operators worldwide to commercially launch the technology, with deployment slated for next year.