Two Japanese cellular operators are expected to launch commercial 4G Long Term Evolution (LTE) services later this week to coincide with the introduction of the new Apple iPhone 5 handset on Friday. Second and third-placed cellcos KDDI and Softbank will be hoping that the new LTE-enabled iPhone model will help them make an immediate dent in the market share of mobile market leader and long-term LTE provider NTT DoCoMo, which launched 4G services in December 2010 and recently passed the five million subscriber milestone on its LTE network. Softbank does already offer a 4G mobile internet product, although this is based on the less widely adopted Advanced eXtended Global Platform (AXGP) standard, which entered service in February this year. Softbank says its new LTE network will cover all major cities by the end of this year, while KDDI is hoping to offer 96% population coverage by April 2013. Both services will initially be providing theoretical peak mobile data rates of up to 75Mbps, although actual end-user speeds will be some way below this.
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