NTT DoCoMo shopping for Super 3G gear

NTT DoCoMo Inc. has started shopping for equipment for a future Super 3G network that will carry data many times faster than current third-generation (3G) technology.

The carrier, which is Japan's largest cellular network operator, issued requests for bids Friday for Super 3G base station and mobile station equipment. Companies interested in supplying the equipment have until Aug. 23 to respond.

Super 3G is an adaptation of today's WCDMA (wideband code division multiple access) technology. Also known by the official name "Long Term Evolution," the technology will support downloads at up to 100M bps (bits per second) and uploads at up to 50M bps.

Basic standardization of the technology has been completed, enabling NTT DoCoMo to start early tests. The final specification isn't expected until at least 2007, according to the carrier.

Downloads on NTT DoCoMo's current 3G network run as fast as 384k bps and this is about to be improved to around 3.6M bps (bits per second) with the introduction of an HSDPA (high speed downlink packet access) upgrade. Several more upgrades are possible with the HSDPA technology prior to the introduction of Super 3G.

The upgrade to Super 3G is likely to happen around the end of the decade and be the final update to WCDMA before NTT DoCoMo adopts an even more advanced 4G network technology.

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