LIVE FROM GSMA MOBILE ASIA CONGRESS 2011: KDDI expects its mobile networks to be running at capacity by 2014 even after the introduction of LTE, according to KDDI president Takashi Tanaka. “By 2014 data traffic is predicted to overflow KDDI’s capacity even if we use LTE capacity as well as the 3G capacity. This traffic issue is a top priority,” he said in his keynote speech at Congress.
Tanaka said that despite the Japanese number-two operator’s widespread 3G network and plans to launch LTE by the end of 2012, the much larger amount of data used by smartphones and tablet computers mean these networks soon won’t be able to cope with demand.
To tackle the problem KDDI’s so-called '3M' strategy (multiple networks, devices and usage) plans to offload data from mobile networks to the other networks that the company operates, including WiMAX and fixed broadband.
KDDI’s UQ subsidiary runs WiMAX services nationwide and the operator also recently announced it would be launching 100,000 Wi-Fi hotspots across Japan. The company is also developing its fibre-to-the-home (FTTH) fixed broadband business.
Tanaka said the company plans to use these different networks to offload traffic from mobile broadband networks where possible. “Using those networks we try to connect all those devices. We are planning network enhancement for the offload, network management and affordable pricing that will make sense to our customers,” he said.
The company also plans to offload data traffic onto its FTTH fixed network at peak times. “If we offload heavily to this it will ease the overflow on the 3G network,” Tanaka said. The KDDI president explained that offloading onto the fixed network would only require additional capex to generate lower costs. “Cost per megabyte will decrease if we use more fixed network,” he said.
There are also plans to boost usage of the UQ WiMAX network by offloading mobile data via 3G and WiMAX-enabled devices. “We can offload heavily to the WiMAX network,” Tanaka said. KDDI is even looking at using its cable TV network to offload data via Wi-Fi enabled set-top boxes.
Tanaka’s comments echo those made by his predecessor Tadashi Onodera at Mobile Asia Congress last year when he warned that LTE alone would not be able to meet mobile demand. Meanwhile, KDDI GM Masaaki Koga also told Mobile Business Briefing this week that KDDI is focusing on a mixture of technologies as part of the development of its wireless network.
Tanaka added that smartphones accounted for more than half of KDDI’s handset sales over the past month but with these devices using ten times as much data as featurephones with an ARPU just US$25 higher, KDDI is looking to other areas for revenue. The operator plans to pursue partnerships with OTT content providers to generate non-telecom revenue. “We have a plan to increase our non-telecom revenue in relationship with those partners,” Tanaka said.