LIVE FROM BROADBAND ASIA, SINGAPORE: Japanese operator KDDI’s push over the past year to boost WiFi offload has resulted in a sharp increase in the amount of data moved off macro sites as well as huge savings in wireless capex.
Fumio Watanabe (pictured), chairman of KDDI’s R&D Laboratories, said during the event’s keynote today that WiFi offload was stuck at about 30 per cent three to four years ago when users faced frequent connection issues with WiFi and because flat-rate plans didn’t give them much incentive to use WiFi.
It was only after the company distributed three million free WiFi access points that the percentage jumped from 30 per cent to 57 per cent. Watanabe told Mobile World Live that with more than half of its macro traffic offloaded to WiFi, its LTE capex has dropped by a similar percentage.
“We hit the 57 per cent target last fiscal year, which ended 31 March, and aim to expand the offload to 65 per cent this fiscal year, which will further reduce our LTE capex,” he said.
KDDI is Japan’s second largest mobile player with a 24 per cent market share, according to GSMA Intelligence.
He also noted that the introduction of Voice over LTE (VoLTE) isn’t just about high-quality voice. KDDI has launched additional “sync” services, such as the sharing of screens, locations and cameras. For example, a user can show a map in real time to someone he or she is speaking with.
To cope with the macro data explosion, with the company experiencing an extreme concentration of traffic at specific times and in specific places, Watanabe said KDDI plans to implement 8×8 MIMO ((Multiple Input Multiple Output) on the 3.5GHz band in about two years. The technology can support theoretical download speeds of 1Gb/s, but currently there are no chipsets available, so it will likely have to work with vendors on that issue.