KDDI Engineering Center
Thanks to KDDI and CommScope, visitors can now use their mobile devices to share the wonders of Yakusugi Forest
Local residents and tourists alike enjoy hiking through the breathtaking Yakusugi Forest off of the southern tip of Kyushu, Japan. But there’s a catch to the Yakusugi tourist experience: to preserve its pristine condition as an official Natural World Heritage Site, operators were forbidden from erecting unsightly base stations within its borders.
So, while Yakusugi remains a haven for nature lovers, until recently it was a barren desert for cell signals. That all changed in March 2014, when one of Asia’s top telecommunications carriers, KDDI Corporation, assumed the challenge of providing comprehensive 4G LTE coverage within and around the majestic island forest.
Beyond aesthetic restrictions, the island’s dense vegetation also made it impossible to successfully place any structures in locations high enough to be of any real value. So, experts at KDDI’s Fukuoka Engineering Center thought “outside the island,” preferring instead to deploy an innovative wireless solution on neighboring Tanegashima Island, roughly 22 miles northwest of Yakushima. KDDI had prior experience ensuring wireless coverage over a maximum radius of only six miles. To achieve a reliable 22-mile radius, KDDI sought out CommScope’s five-beam antenna—a special solution that emits a 14-degree narrow beamwidth and 20 dBi gain.
Once the antenna was deployed, the KDDI team hiked deep into the forest to test signal reliability at the oldest remaining tree, called the Jomon Sugi, 4,265 feet above sea level. Once the team arrived at the ancient tree, everyone quickly checked their cell phones and were elated to see a reliable 4G LTE signal. Ever since that moment, the mysteries of Yakusugi Forest can now be shared with friends and family in real time. As a result, KDDI has strengthened its reputation as one of Japan’s premier wireless service providers.
Company fast facts
- Yakushima Island lies off the southern tip of Kyushu, Japan and is a prominent tourist location that attracts more than 300,000 visitors every year—for one very important reason: trees. These aren’t just any trees; they’re ancient Japanese cedars known as “Yakusugi.” Many of these trees have existed for over a thousand years; a few are believed to be several thousand years old.
- To preserve the Yakusugi Forest’s pristine condition as an official Natural World Heritage Site, operators were forbidden from erecting unsightly base stations within its borders. None of the natural beauty captured by visitors could be shared in real time.
- Since no antennas could be placed on Yakushima Island, KDDI engineers decided to deploy CommScope’s five-beam antenna on neighboring Tanegashima Island, roughly 22 miles northwest of Yakusugi Forest, providing an innovative wireless solution.