Wi-Fi trumps LTE for mobile web: Softbank

John C. Tanner
20 Nov 2009

LTE isn’t fast enough for Softbank, whose chief sees Wi-Fi as the best way to help satisfy capacity demands for mobile Internet home usage in Japan.

Softbank chairman and CEO Masayoshi Son said that mobile data usage in Japan is already generating enough ARPU to offset voice ARPU declines, but that current HSPA connectivity isn’t enough bandwidth to serve existing usage, and migrating to LTE alone won’t help.

“Over 50% of our data traffic happens at home during peak hours, and smartphones have driven our data traffic up ten times,” said Son in a keynote speech at the Mobile Asia Congress. “We need Wi-Fi to serve that traffic and give our customers a rich media experience.”

Softbank is already selling a line of Wi-Fi enabled handsets, and also owns a fixed broadband network that would supply the backhaul for home Wi-Fi users.

“Of course we intend to migrate to LTE, but it’s not good enough to support customers when they use mobile internet at home,” Son said. “I use my nose to breathe, but when I am feeling aggressive or excited, I need to use my mouth to breathe as well. Wi-Fi is the mouth – it helps you breathe better.”

Son offered his own mobile data usage as an example. “I come from the PC and internet business, so I used to use both all the time. After I got an iPhone, a year later my PC/internet usage dropped 95%.”

Son also claimed that by the year 2024, smartphone-like devices would hold 32TB of storage capacity.

“That’s enough to store 8 million songs, 120 years TV programs and 72,000 years of newspapers. But you’ll still need faster speeds because there will still be new content coming in all the time,” he said.

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