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No. 364, January 2000

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American Companies in Japan


Japanese manufacturers of fiber-optic cables have a new, in-country source of state-of-the- art fibers. KDD FIBERLABS of Kamifukuoka, Saitama prefecture brings together THORLABS, INC. and the R&D laboratories of international communications carrier KDD CORP. The joint venture, in which the Newton, New Jersey company evidently is a minority investor, will specialize in the supply of exotic glass, rare-earth, doped optical-fiber products. Among the first ones to be produced are fluoride and tellurite fibers, including fluoride fiber bundles, as well as various ASE (amplified spontaneous emission) White Light Test Source models. KDD FiberLabs will market these products in Japan. It also will serve as the exclusive distributor of other Thorlabs products. Outside of Japan, Thorlabs will be the sole marketer of KDD FiberLabs' product line. The U.S. company and its Japanese partner have worked together since 1998.

Within the space of five months, at least six American firms have unveiled plans to build Internet data centers in Japan (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 363, December 1999, p. 36). The latest addition to the list is DIGITAL ISLAND, INC. The San Francisco company's ultrasecure facility will be built in Tokyo. Slated to be operational by April 2000, it will be maintained around-the-clock by on-site personnel. Like Digital Island's five existing regional data centers, the Tokyo location will have backup and disaster-recovery systems to ensure the safety and the availability of customers' applications and data. In advance of this move, Digital Island formed a subsidiary in the capital to provide global content delivery services, applications hosting and intelligent network services to Japanese corporations under the e-Network Services banner.

LUCENT TECHNOLOGIES INC. has demonstrated time and again in recent years that it is prepared to do whatever is necessary to become a heavyweight in the huge Japanese market for carrier-class equipment. That message has received reinforcement in the form of the announcement that the company's Bell Laboratories was opening its third R&D facility in Japan. Located in Yokohama, the center will strengthen Lucent's local wireless communications systems development capability, both on the hardware and the software side. Its initial focus will be wideband CDMA technology for the third-generation wireless communications systems that NTT MOBILE COMMUNICATIONS NETWORK, INC. could deploy as early as 2001. In time, though, the center will pursue R&D on other wireless communications technologies. For the last two years, Bell Labs has honed its W- CDMA expertise at the Yokosuka Research Park in Kanagawa prefecture, not far from Yokohama. In December 1998, Lucent's R&D arm also opened a facility in Makuhari, Chiba prefecture to explore advances in passive optical networking equipment.

Under a contract worth approximately $3.2 million, GLOBECOMM SYSTEMS INC. will design, build, install and support a satellite earth station for NTT COMMUNICATIONS CORP. The facility, which will be located on Okinawa, will be equipped with an ATM switch and have voice capabilities and direct Internet connectivity via satellite to the U.S. Internet backbone in Chatsworth, California. Globecomm Systems' NETSAT EXPRESS, INC. subsidiary will provide this link, which will enable NTT Communications, the domestic and international long-distance unit of NIPPON TELEGRAPH AND TELEPHONE CORP., to offer competitively priced high-bandwidth Internet access services to subscribers in this region of Japan. Installation of the earth station is scheduled to be finished in the first quarter of 2000.

The Gigabit Ethernet network solution offered by CABLETRON SYSTEMS INC. received its second endorsement in as many months from a health-care institution in Japan (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 363, December 1999, p. 37). Saiseikai Kumamoto Hospital in the prefectural capital installed a system featuring the Rochester, New Hampshire maker's SmartSwitch Router technology to manage and transmit high-volume data files, including X-rays, scans, images and patient records. The Cabletron infrastructure also enables the hospital to automate other parts of its operation, such as the accounting system. Equally important, the state-of-the-art communications network positions the facility to move into the telemedicine field in the future.

CISCO SYSTEMS, INC.'s subsidiary is partnering with SUMITOMO ELECTRIC INDUSTRIES, LTD. on optical communications network infrastructure to meet the exponential increase in demand for Internet bandwidth. Their solution combines the Cisco 12000 Gigabit Switch Router with SEI's capacity-expanding wavelength-division multiplexing technology. The GSR equipment takes data traffic from traditional voice, ATM, frame-relay, cable, digital subscriber line and dial-up platforms and transmits this information at gigabit speeds across the optical IP network. Cisco Systems and SEI predict that their marketing alliance will produce combined revenues of $77.7 million in 2000 and as much as $339.8 million in 2002.

Signaling a major push into the Japanese market, broadband communications equipment supplier POLYCOM, INC. signed HITACHI CABLE, LTD. to sell its voice conferencing, video communications and Web-conferencing products. At the heart of the San Jose, California manufacturer's line is the ViewStation series of video communications products with their Web management, video-over-IP and Ethernet connectivity capabilities. Hitachi Cable has formed a business unit dedicated to the marketing of Polycom's devices and committed to distributing no other company's conferencing products.

The third generation of COBALT NETWORKS, INC.'s Japan-customized Internet and Web-hosting server appliances is available through the Mountain View, California company's Tokyo subsidiary and its multiple distributors. The RaQ 3J hardware/software combination, which runs the Linux operating system, provides a full suite of Internet services, including Web publishing, e-mail and file transfer, along with remote administration, thereby enabling ISPs, developers and systems integrators to build solutions. Cobalt's main sales pitch for the RaQ 3J, like its predecessors, is that this server appliance allows organizations to establish an on-line presence more cost-effectively and easily than using Unix or Windows NT systems.

ACT NETWORKS, INC. is projecting Japan sales of $10 million in 2000 for its NetPerformer family of integrated network access devices for voice-over-IP networks. SUMITOMO CORP. has the job of making the Calabasas, California manufacturer's forecast a reality. The trader will market the NetPerformer line through its various distribution channels, with a NEC CORP. subsidiary providing installation and technical support services.

Two U.S. suppliers of Internet security appliances have expanded their product lines to reach smaller end-users. SONICWALL, INC. (formerly Sonic Systems, Inc.) released the SonicWALL SOHO. Like other devices in the Sunnyvale, California company's line, this product protects the corporate LAN (local area network) from Internet hackers and vandals, prevents denial-of-service attacks, filters content and provides IP address and Web browser management. The SonicWALL SOHO, though, is intended for businesses with anywhere from a few Internet users to several hundred since, depending on the model, it can support 10 nodes or 50 nodes. SonicWALL tied up with SUMITOMO METAL SYSTEMS DEVELOPMENT CO., LTD. to distribute this product. Other companies market the rest of SonicWALL's affordable, easy-to-use and robust Internet security appliances (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 355, April 1999, p. 15).

For its part, NETSCREEN TECHNOLOGIES, INC. introduced through marketing partner HITACHI SEIBU SOFTWARE, LTD. an Internet security appliance for remote offices and telecommuters. The NetScreen-5 integrates firewall, virtual private networking and traffic- shaping functionalities in configurations designed for 10 users or 25 users. Given the movement of small businesses in Japan into the Internet age, Hitachi Seibu Software calculates that it can sell 3,000 NetScreen-5s a year. The device is expected to go for under $3,900.

With demand expanding in Japan for wireless LAN products, particularly for all the mobile computers sold there, the leader in this field, Sunnyvale, California-based PROXIM, INC., opened an office in Tokyo. It will provide sales and technical support for the company's complete lineup, including the popular RangeLAN2, the RangeLAN802 and Symphony (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 361, October 1999, p. 35). The office also will be tasked with building up Proxim's OEM customer base and developing new sales channels.

Indicative of the market in Japan for wireless LAN products is the estimate by NCR CORP.'s subsidiary that it can sell annually 100,000 of LUCENT TECHNOLOGIES INC.'s new WaveLAN Turbo 11 Mb systems. This addition to the WaveLAN line not only delivers performance compliant with the latest IEEE 802.11 high-rate standard, but also provides improved coverage and range. In addition, the manufacturer says, it consumes less power than competing models. For mobile computers, the WaveLAN Turbo 11Mb is implemented through a $565 PC Card. An antenna costs $195. The WavePOINT-II access point that creates the enterprisewide wireless LAN lists for $2,200.

XM SATELLITE RADIO INC. has enlisted a fifth Japanese company, CLARION CO., LTD., to develop, make and market radios capable of receiving its new brand of radio broadcasting service. As soon as early 2001, the Washington, D.C.-based company will deliver via satellite up to 100 channels of digital-quality music, news, sports, talk and children's programming directly to vehicle, home and portable radios anywhere across the United States for a monthly charge of $9.95. The other Japanese companies working with XM Satellite Radio are ALPINE ELECTRONICS, INC., MITSUBISHI ELECTRIC CORP., PIONEER CORP. and SHARP CORP.

An exchange rate of ¥103=$1.00 was used in this report. aaaaa

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