As more and more people in Japan are ditching the once locally-favored “feature phones” for Internet-enabled smartphones, Web connectivity is becoming a major issue for networks. To ease the demand on network connectivity, the Japanese government is releasing for commercial use the previously unused 2500Mhz spectrum to KDDI, the nation’s second largest mobile carrier. This action has elicited anger and protest from Masayoshi Son, founder and CEO of SoftBank, who also applied for use of the same spectrum.
According to the Japan’s Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications, the coveted spectrum – part of 4G technologies that can offer higher download speeds for mobile users – will be allocated to UQ Communications, a KDDI affiliate. A business unit of rival Softbank also applied to use the spectrum, but the regulatory panel awarded the spectrum to KDDI, as according to them, the latter presented “better utilization plans for frequency assets inside buildings and tunnels”. The 2500Mhz band enters into what is commonly known as WiFi frequencies, able to give users peak download speeds of 30 to 75 Mbits per second. Currently, most of Japan’s mobile carriers offer LTE connectivity (at the 2100Mhz range) that can offer download speeds of 5 to 25 Mbits per second, at this point already tremendous speeds for a mobile user’s smartphone or tablet. The 2500Mhz spectrum will most probably double those speeds.
Softbank, however, takes issue with what it calls an “unfair” allocation to its competitor. The company has already lodged a petition against the decision and has even requested for the records related to the awarding of the spectrum to be made public. Masayoshi Son, CEO of SoftBank, reportedly got into a 50-minute shouting match with the communications ministry officials, saying that “The process is ridiculous and very unfair. We need to fight for our users. I’m fully prepared to die if necessary to say this.” Son also added that SoftBank is ready to take the issue to court and file an administrative lawsuit if the ministry still insists on not disclosing these records.
Comments Off on JDP Startup Corner: Pros & Cons of Working with a Partner in Japan