Tuesday, November 9, 2010
Docomo Xi LTE data plan pricing and products announced
Posted by SBS
Docomo's Xi LTE service will begin 12/24/2010. So far, two products focusing on business customers have been announced, a USB dongle (L-02C) and Express card (F-06C). Each of these products supports the full 100 Mbps/50 Mbps down/uplink of the LTE standard, though Xi will not, at first, support these speeds.
Nothing yet on handsets.
There are two plans, the Xi Data Plan (Xiデータプラン) and the Xi Two-Year Data Plan (Xiデータプランにねん). The two-year plan results in a significant discount but requires a two-year contract.
The XI Data Plan (XI Two-Year Data Plan) has a base fee of ¥2470 (¥1000) per month, which includes 3,177KB of data. After this is passed, fees increase linearly at ¥0.315 per KB until 20 MB. From 20 MB to 5 GB, the fee is a flat ¥7,980 (¥6,510) per month. During the campaign, the flat rate is ¥6,405 (¥4,935).
Exceeding 5 GB will incur a charge of ¥2,625 for an additional 2 GB, which is significantly different from how data has been billed previously but inline with what other carriers abroad are doing. According to Docomo CEO Yamada, 99% of current FOMA users do not exceed 5 GB, so this is why this was selected as the cap. This logic is flawed, however, because a Xi users will find it much easier to consume 5 GB than a FOMA users simply because of the higher throughput.
The end of all-you-can-eat data?
As data hungry mobile devices proliferate, carriers have been scrapping unlimited 3G data plans. So far in Japan, we've been unaffected by this trend, but beginning with Docomo's LTE Xi "4G" service, this will no longer be the case. I expect other Japanese carriers to introduce similar plans as they phase in next generation networks using the newly allocated 1.5 GHz spectrum, though Softbank remains a bit of a question mark due to their history of aggressive pricing and subsidizing.
To recap, Xi uses 1.5 Ghz with a 5 Mhz channel bandwidth for outdoor coverage resulting in theoretical maximum downlink and uplink of 37.5 and 12.5 Mbps, respectively. Dual channels will be used in select indoor locations to increase bandwidth to 10 MHz resulting in 75 Mbps down and 25 Mbps up.
Xi, like all current wimax and LTE networks, is not officially 4G because it does not meet all necessary standards, such as a 100 Mbps downlink, but this will change as the network evolves (LTE = longterm evolution). Right now, Xi is best considered 3.9G.
By March 2011 (end of FY 2010), Docomo expects to have service to 7% of the population by covering the cities of Tokyo, Nagoya, and Osaka, with this increasing to 20% by March 2012 and 40% by March 2013.