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September 8, 2011
NTT DoCoMo Inc. (NYSE: DCM) announced on Thursday that it will offer its first two Long Term Evolution (LTE) tablets for its Xi-branded service starting early next month.
The two devices are the Galaxy Tab 10.1 from Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. (Korea: SEC) and the Arrows Tab LTE from Fujitsu Ltd. (Tokyo: 6702; London: FUJ; OTC: FJTSY), both of which are based on Google (Nasdaq: GOOG)'s Android 3.2 OS and optimized for Docomo's own LTE service.
Features include support for 3G (up to 14.4 Mbit/s on the Samsung device and up to 7.2 Mbit/s on the Fujitsu tablet) as well as Wi-Fi. The Fujitsu tablet is even waterproof. [Ed note: but be careful when using it in the bathtub because it's not supposed to be exposed to soap, shampoo or bath salts!] The tablets are expected to cost between ¥20,000 (US$258) and ¥25,000 ($323) on a two-year contract, according to a Docomo spokeswoman.
With the new tablets, Docomo will also offer two new price plans -- one is a flat-rate tariff for heavy data users and the other is a "two-tier" plan that allows users to pay as they go up to a certain data limit. The flat-rate plan will cost ¥4,410 ($57) per month while the two-tier plan will cost between ¥2,500 ($32) and ¥4,935 ($63) per month.
In addition to the devices and tariffs, Docomo also introduced new applications for these tablets, including video services from Hulu LLC and Qik Inc. , as well as a gaming service called G Cloud from Taiwanese cloud computing company Ubitus Inc. (See Ubitus Demos Cloud Gaming on LTE and Docomo Links LTE to the Cloud.)
Docomo launched LTE services commercially in December 2010. At the end of August this year, Docomo had 296,200 LTE subscribers, according to the spokeswoman. (See NTT Docomo Launches LTE Service.)
Why this matters
These devices are Docomo's first tablets for its Xi-branded service and are significant additions to its device portfolio. Until now, Docomo only had two LTE data cards for its service. It's also important that Docomo has started to add new services and content designed specifically for the new tablets.
Beyond that, Docomo is a next-generation mobile pioneer -- it was one of the first operators to launch LTE services -- so it is always worth watching. And Japan will be one of the biggest LTE markets in the Asia/Pacific region, which is set to have the most LTE subscribers in the world by the end of 2014. (See Asia/Pac Will Be LTE World Leader .)
Here are the latest moves in LTE tablets and LTE services in Japan:
Verizon Intros First LTE Tablet in the US
AT&T's First LTE Tab Is for Big Spenders
Where Are the LTE Tablets?
NTT Unveils LTE Devices
Docomo Pours $426M in LTE Capex
— Michelle Donegan, European Editor, Light Reading Mobile
Michelle Donegan is an independent technology writer who has covered the communications industry for the last 20 years on both sides of the Pond. Her career began in Chicago in 1993 when Telephony magazine launched an international title, aptly named Global Telephony. Since then, she has upped sticks (as they say) to the UK and has written for various publications including Communications Week International, Total Telecom and, most recently, Light Reading.
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