Softbank to aquire eAccess, gain more LTE cover for iPhone 5

The deal is expected to bring better coverage and faster data to users within weeks

Japan's Softbank Mobile is taking a multi-billion dollar short-cut to building a high-speed wireless network compatible with the new iPhone 5 by acquiring rival carrier eAccess.

The US$2 billion deal was signed and announced on Monday and could mean that iPhone 5 users gain within a few weeks significantly better LTE coverage, Softbank CEO Masayoshi Son said at a Tokyo news conference.

Both Softbank and rival KDDI recently began rolling out LTE networks for their iPhone 5 customers, but the networks are in their early stages and don't have great coverage. Softbank had been marching towards the goal of 20,000 base stations by March next year. The eAccess network adds an additional 10,000 base stations.

"As you know, Softbank and KDDI are locked in a tough fight," said Son. "We both offer the iPhone 5 and there's a harsh battle going on. It's a good thing, but it's all about who can expend the most sweat to build the network fastest. What we're announcing today is an expansion that doesn't require any sweat."

Softbank and KDDI are both using 10MHz of spectrum in LTE band 1, which uses frequencies in the 2.1GHz range, while EAccess uses band 3 frequencies in the 1.8GHz range. Softbank's iPhone 5 users should get access to the band 3 network within a few weeks after Softbank and Apple complete network tests, Son said.

Another benefit Softbank customers will see is an earlier introduction of the company's LTE tethering service, which will launch a month early on Dec. 15, Son said.

Before Monday's deal, Softbank was Japan's No. 3 carrier and was rapidly approaching second-place KDDI in terms of subscribers. The deal will put it ahead, according to market data presented by Son. He said the combined Softbank and eAccess would rank as Japan's second largest carrier.Softbank's lack of bandwidth and poor reputation for network quality have been sources of complaints among customers, however, even as the company made major investments in strengthening its network and obtained additional bandwidth from the government in recent years.With the launch of the iPhone 5, the company had been expected to add more load to its strained networks, so Monday's deal should help alleviate congestion.

Softbank, eAccess and KDDI all lag NTT DoCoMo, Japan's biggest carrier, which offers the rival Samsung Galaxy S3 and launched its LTE network back in 2010.

Martyn Williams covers mobile telecoms, Silicon Valley and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Follow Martyn on Twitter at @martyn_williams. Martyn's e-mail address is

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.
Show Comments

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles


PCW Evaluation Team

Andrew Teoh

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

Touch screen visibility and operation was great and easy to navigate. Each menu and sub-menu was in an understandable order and category

Louise Coady

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

The printer was convenient, produced clear and vibrant images and was very easy to use

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Walid Mikhael

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?