Japanese operator eMobile – focused on providing HSPA services via a data-centric business model – has stolen a march on domestic rivals by launching what it claims is the country’s first commercial HSPA+ network. The new faster technology has a theoretical peak download speed of 21.6Mb/s and currently covers cities such as Hokkaido, Sendai, Niigata, Hiroshima, Fukuoka and Nagasaki. Chinese vendor Huawei is supplying both network kit and datacards. “Japan’s first commercial HSPA+ network will provide eMobile customers with the most advanced and sophisticated mobile broadband services in the country,” noted Eric Gan, representative director, president and COO of eMobile.

eMobile is a subsidiary of parent company eAccess, which was one of three companies granted new mobile licenses by the Japanese government in 2005. eMobile has already gained a 15 percent share of the country’s HSPA market (according to Wireless Intelligence), with 1.7 million customers. 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, and boasts a connections growth rate far higher than its more established rivals, NTT Docomo, KDDI and Softbank. It aims to generate a profit this year. Market-leader Docomo currently offers 7.2Mb/s HSDPA coverage nationwide and is expected to jump straight to LTE network launch next year rather than use HSPA+ technology.