The Federal Communications Commission cleared the U.S. subsidiary of KOKUSAI DENSHIN DENWA CO., LTD. to provide facilities-based telephone and data- transmission services between the United States and eligible international points except Japan. This was the last of the first batch of applications that KDD AMERICA, INC. filed in early 1997 (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 337, October 1997, pp. 8-9). The company plans to build its own network in this country and then lease capacity on international lines.
Marking the second phase of their alliance, MI-TSUI & CO., LTD. invested $500,000 in FOUNDRY NETWORKS, INC., the self-described leader of the Gigabit Ethernet switching and routing market. Last June, the trader became the Sunnyvale, California firm's exclusive distributor (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 334, July 1997, p. 24). Foundry Networks will use the Mitsui money for R&D as well as sales and marketing.
KYOCERA CORP. sees the September 1998 launch of satellite-based global mobile voice and data services by IRIDIUM LLC as the beginning of a potentially big new market for handsets. Starting in July, the company will ship handsets as well as pagers on an OEM basis to 11 regional affiliates of Iridium, an international consortium spearheaded by MOTOROLA INC. Two versions will be built: one for the United States based on the CDMA (code-division multiple access) format and the other for Europe, which uses the GSM (global standard for mobile communications) format. These handsets will be able to do double-duty as standard cellular phones. In Japan, NIPPON IRIDIUM CORP. will handle sales. Kyocera and long-distance carrier DDI CORP., an affiliate, are the biggest shareholders in that company. In time, Iridium will have a network of 66 low-orbit satellites to provide mobile communications around the world. Saratoga, the Internet screen telephone that MI-TSUI COMTEK CORP. plans to release this spring (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 339, December 1997, p. 7), will use World Wide Web browser software from PLANETWEB INC. for both Internet access and as the display engine for all applications. The MITSUI & CO., LTD. affiliate chose the Mountain View, California firm's product because it offers high performance yet does not require an operating system and uses less than 2 megabytes of total system memory.
A new type of cable modem codeveloped by TOSHIBA CORP. and the cable television operation of TIME WARNER INC. will be used on a test basis in Connecticut to provide high-speed Internet access to the number-two U.S. cable operator's subscribers. The cable modem allows users to download information from the Internet at speeds of up to 40 megabits per second more than 1,000 times faster than a conventional 28.8-kilobit-per-second telephone modem and to send files at a speedy 10 Mbps. Toshiba will manufacture the cable modem. It hopes to supply the product to other CATV operators besides Time Warner Cable.
Hoping to be early leaders in the American market for HDTV sets when digital television broadcasting begins this fall, HITACHI, LTD. and THOMSON CONSUMER ELECTRONICS INC. of Indianapolis, Indiana are pooling their technical resources. The collaboration draws on the Japanese firm's expertise in wide-screen televisions and the digital technology of the maker of RCA-brand TVs. Their initial product, which will be sold separately at prices ranging from an expected $5,000 to an anticipated $7,000, will be capable of receiving both digital and analog signals and will be compatible with any of the 18 different digital broadcasting formats that TV stations might use.
Although third in the race with MATSUSHITA ELECTRIC INDUSTRIAL CO., LTD. and SONY CORP. to supply digital equipment to television broadcasters, VICTOR CO. OF JAPAN. LTD. continues to win orders for its Digital S videotape recorder. The latest buyer is KITV, the Honolulu, Hawaii affiliate of ABC INC. Its order, including related equipment, was worth $769,200.
An exchange rate of ¥130=$1.00 was used in this report.