Friday, November 4, 2011

NTT Docomo Sets Sights on "Shaping a Smart Life"

NTT Docomo outlined its medium-term vision of transforming from Japan's largest mobile operator into an Integrated Service company with a mobile network at its core. The three-year plan calls for a rapid expansion of new services aimed at "Shaping a Smart Life" at a personalized level for each of its tens of millions of users. In short, Docomo seeks to become a Personal Life Agent by leveraging smartphones, a fully deployed LTE-Advanced network, artificial intelligence and cloud computing.

Docomo plans to serve a wide range of smartphones and tablets through its own original content portal and marketplace for third party applications and services. The company will continue to offer its own line of LTE smartphones with advanced features such as e-wallet, new media broadcasting, location services and earthquake warnings. The network will deliver security capabilities such as anti-phishing, parental controls, spam filtering, and remote monitoring and support.

New technologies for the mid-term include smartphone sensor "jackets" for detecting environmental conditions such as radiation, UV exposure, body temperature, blood pressure, blood alcohol level, and even bad mouth odors. Better battery technology will bring super-rapid charging in about 10 minutes. Docomo also sees the incorporation of gesture technologies, better voice recognition, etc. by 2015.

Docomo will strive to increase its total smartphone subscriptions to 40 million by FY2015, including 30 million using its Xi LTE service.

Docomo is accelerating the expansion of its "Xi" LTE network with the target of achieving nationwide population coverage of 98% in FY2014. Over this period, the maximum downstream data throughput rate will be increased to 100 Mbps. This will be accomplish with the introduction of LTE -Advanced over the same period. After 2015, Docomo envisions LTE-Advanced scaling to Gigabit speed downloads through the use of higher MiMO and additional spectrum.

Maximum data throughput rates will be increased to 100 Mbps nationwide by FY 2014 with the introduction of LTE -Advanced.

While the projected data traffic growth will be 12x by 2015, Docomo hopes to increase its packet revenues by 1.5x to reach 2.7 trillion yen in FY2015. Accommodating this traffic growth also requires a number of countermeasures, including the use of new spectrum, the implementation of small-cell architecture, traffic management for the heaviest data users, new tiered pricing schemes, and the expansion of Wi-Fi offload. Docomo will increase the number of public Wi-Fi hotspots from 30,000 to 100,000.

The real transformation into an Integrated Services company will occur through the convergence of the advanced mobile network with other industries. Docomo plans to lead the way by becoming a Personal Life Agent in broadcasting & content recommendations, personal and vehicular navigation, personal health monitoring, personal data storage, personal memory storage (photo and video archiving), mobile banking and mobile commerce. Docomo plans to increase the financial investments it has made in start-ups operating in each of these sectors. Revenue targets for 2015 have now been set in these sectors. Overall, the company aims to expand the revenue of these New Businesses to approximately 1 trillion yen by FY2015, about 2.5 times the current run rate.

Cloud services and artificial intelligence will be the key enablers for these New Businesses.

Docomo is also looking to boost its international presence by promoting this "platform" vision with other carriers. It holds strategic investments in a number of key telecom carriers and has formed strategic alliances with others.

In addition, Docomo is moving ahead to implement key learning from the Great East Japan Earthquake. These include:

  • Enhancing its ability to quickly deploy large scale base stations following a major disaster

  • Securing base station power supplies for extended electrical outage.

  • Ensuring the swift provisioning of satellite mobile phones following a major disaster

  • Increasing the usage of microwave backhaul and satellite circuits as a back-up to fiber connections.