KDDI launches largest 3G to Wifi data offload network in Japan

KDDI Corporation, Japan’s principal telecommunications provider, has launched the world’s first and largest “instant on” Wi-Fi access and mobile data offload service.

With over 32 million mobile subscribers, KDDI is using Wi-Fi equipment from Ruckus wireless to offload data traffic from its cellular networks to WiFi and to provide high-speed WiFi access throughout Japan.

Subscribers of KDDI’s packet flat rate plans can now use the new KDDI “au Wi-Fi SPOT” service free of charge with their au Android smartphones in over 10,000 locations initially, scaling to 100,000 locations by March 2012. With no tedious, manual configuration of the phone, KDDI subscribers can automatically access and be authenticated to KDDI au Wi-Fi hotspots using credentials embedded within each phone over highly secured and encrypted connections.

“Wi-Fi is clearly at the top of the list for service providers around the world looking for new ways to increase cellular capacity,” said Selina Lo, president and CEO of Ruckus Wireless. “KDDI has taken a truly innovative approach to building a heterogeneous network that combines macro cellular technology, femtocells, WiMAX and Wi-Fi to address the exponential growth of wireless data traffic.”

Lo noted that innovative service providers face a number of issues as they look to support the aggressive smart phone rollouts. Legacy macro-cell architectures cannot provide density of coverage for today’s demanded applications such as access to rich media and social media networks. This translates into evolved network requirements that include:
• varying traffic demands and traffic mix,
• constantly changing RF environments,
• capacity limitations driving smaller cell deployments,
• challenges in providing indoor coverage and
• difficulties in acquiring sites where equipment can be installed.

With Wi-Fi embedded in virtually every mobile Internet device, common hotspot services have become an important component of effective coverage for today’s service providers worldwide that offer smartphones. Wi-Fi hotspots are a quick and cost-effective way for mobile operators to inject wireless capacity in areas of high usage, thereby alleviating the pressures on 3G/4G infrastructures caused by the explosion of mobile Internet data traffic.

However, the lack of integration between Wi-Fi hotspots and cellular networks has hampered operators from delivering a seamless and consistent subscriber experience to the exploding population of smartphone and tablet users. KDDI has solved this problem, through introducing innovative bundled plans that include both 3G and Wi-Fi traffic in a variety of options. The charging is unified, and access to both 3G and Ruckus-driven Wi-Fi networks is a single seamless experience for KDDI’s customers.

More Devices, More Users and More Traffic Drive Infrastructure Changes

“Dramatic changes in customer behavior and the related growth in mobile data traffic from the use of smart phones are having a profound impact on user expectations, service delivery and network infrastructure build-out,” said Tadashi Egawa, head of KDDI’s Service Development and Wi-Fi Business Strategy Department.

The new national Wi-Fi infrastructure initiative is part of KDDI’s larger 3M strategy (multi-device, multi-use, multi-network) to deliver a wide range of innovative content and services over the best network anytime, anywhere to the preferred user device. The heart of this strategy is tackling Japan’s explosive data growth from the use of smart phones, tablets and other Wi-Fi-enabled devices.

The largest mobile data offloading service on record, KDDI’s new Wi-Fi overlay leverages its national WiMAX network to backhaul data traffic from each Wi-Fi hotspot to KDDI’s mobile network core. Each Ruckus ZoneFlex™ Wi-Fi access point (AP) connects wirelessly to KDDI’s WiMAX infrastructure – speeding deployment times and service availability, cutting operational expense and eliminating the need to provision fixed broadband access lines at each location.

“We see carrier-grade Wi-Fi products and technologies as instrumental to achieving a number of strategic objectives from enhancing the user experience to adding wireless access and capacity wherever users go, not to mention increasing the efficiency of our existing mobile infrastructure,” said Egawa.

Building the World’s Largest Mobile Data Offload Service

KDDI’s initial focus is offloading data traffic indoors. For its first phase, KDDI is deploying more than 10,000 Ruckus ZoneFlex 7363 and 7341 dual-band 802.11 indoor access points in venues throughout Japan. A WiMAX router connected to each ZoneFlex 7300 via a USB port allows Wi-Fi traffic to be automatically backhauled over KDDI’s national WiMAX network. KDDI is using Ruckus controller and network management systems to centrally manage ZoneFlex APs, and the Ruckus FlexMaster Wi-Fi system management platform to provide statistical traffic analysis, reporting and troubleshooting on a national scale.

“We selected Ruckus products and technologies because they not only outperformed competitive alternatives but were specifically designed to be easily managed and scaled to support service provider infrastructures such as ours,” said Egawa. “Ruckus Wi-Fi technology is delivering much better coverage, interference mitigation and deployment flexibility that we couldn’t find in any other supplier and at a cost point that enables nationwide deployment. They meet our needs and specifications for carrier grade equipment.”


  1. Ruckus is showing the model of local broadband off load that is clearly what was seen as seen in the Hydro One smart grid development. Just the real time smart grid data alone was a strain on the 3G/4G network of the carriers. I covered this in last weeks Smart Grid V Summit when comparing WAN back haul and NANs.

    We need to understand local broadband off load and why many times it also needs to be local in both network and data base. These dual network access capabilities will offer many unique services requiring some uniquely independent and interoperable security requirements.