Japanese operator eMobile has soft-launched what it claims is the country’s fastest mobile network. Using kit from Ericsson, eMobile has “pre-launched” the latest HSPA+ technology that claims theoretical peak download speeds of 42 Mb/s. The full commercial launch of the network – in metropolitan areas such as Tokyo, Tokai and Osaka – will take place by year-end.

The operator is Japan’s fourth-largest with 2.5 million connections, equating to a 2.3 percent market share, according to Wireless Intelligence. However, it boasts far and away the country’s highest year-on-year growth rate in terms of connections (52.54 percent ). It is focused on providing HSPA services via a data-centric business model, differentiating itself from more established rivals Docomo, KDDI and SoftBank. Last summer Ericsson and Chinese vendor Huawei helped eMobile launch the country’s first commercial HSPA+ network (offering theoretical peak download speeds of 21.6 Mb/s). It launched a 3.6Mb/s HSDPA flat-rate data service in March 2007, steadily moving up to 7.2Mb/s on the downlink as well as launching new HSUPA services. It plans to move to LTE technology by 2012.