Japan-US Business Report LogoJapan-U.S. Business Report

No. 346, July 1998

Issue Index

American Companies in Japan


TELECOMMUNICATIONS

To ensure that it remains ahead of the pack in wireless systems, MOTOROLA INC.'s Cellular Infrastructure Group is building a state-of-the-art R&D complex in Tokyo. The center's immediate job will be to develop systems and software for the trial starting next year in the capital of IMT-2000 systems, the third generation of wireless communications. Based on CDMA technology, these products will offer numerous advanced features, including global roaming. Engineering specialists at the facility will collaborate with other members of Motorola's so-called 3G team around the world. They also will work with the company's two local cdmaOne customers, DDI CORP. and NIPPON IDOU TSUSHIN CORP. (known as IDO), to ready them for the new era of competition.

Seven months after Bell Laboratories opened a facility in Kanagawa prefecture to develop and test a prototype wideband CDMA system for third-generation wireless communications (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 339, December 1997, p. 22), LUCENT TECHNOLOGIES INC.'s R&D arm said that it would set up a new organization in Chiba prefecture to develop prototypes for next-generation passive optical networking systems. PON technology, which uses lasers to carry communications signals over optical-fiber networks, is seen as key to delivering videoconferencing and other high-bandwidth, multimedia applications to customers. To staff the PON facility in Makuhari, Bell Labs plans to hire between 30 and 60 experts over the next two to three years.

News of this move followed the announcement that NIPPON TELEGRAPH AND TELEPHONE CORP. had selected LUCENT TECHNOLOGIES INC. to provide PON technology for its Pi-PON system. This "fiber-to-the-curb" initiative will replace copper cables throughout most of NTT's subscriber system with an optical-fiber infrastructure so that video, high-speed Internet access and other high-bandwidth applications can be brought to homes. Lucent will supply optical network units that will be installed near or in homes as well as optical line terminals that will be located at NTT's central offices. The value of the contract was not disclosed. NTT expects to have a nationwide end-to-end multimedia optical-fiber network in place by 2010.

In another key win for LUCENT TECHNOLOGIES INC., it supplied to NIPPON TELEGRAPH AND TELEPHONE CORP. the WaveStar ADM 16/1 high-capacity optical networking transmission system as well as associated ITM-SC network management technology. Already deployed on NTT's long-distance backbone network serving Tokyo, Nagoya and Osaka, the WaveStar ADM 16/1 will help the communications giant cost-effectively meet the expanding demand for high-speed data, advanced voice and video services. NTT is the first communications carrier in Japan to use the WaveStar ADM 16/1, Lucent's flagship optical networking transmission product. The value of the multiyear contract was not revealed.

People outside the area served by an ISP will be able to access the Internet for just the cost of a local telephone call thanks to the Tigris carrier-class access server that ADVANCED COMPUTER COMMUNICATIONS INC. recently sold to NIHON TELENET CO., LTD. The Suita, Osaka prefecture company plans to establish 50 access points around the country this year, including the first one already set up in Tokyo. ISPs will be charged about $145 a month per access line. NEWBRIDGE NETWORKS LTD. represented Santa Barbara, California-based ACC in this deal (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 344, May 1998, p. 23).

Start-up ARROWPOINT COMMUNICATIONS, which has developed a new class of products known as content-smart switches for the Internet, tapped NET ONE SYSTEMS CO., LTD. to move into the Japanese market. The Westford, Massachusetts company's CS-100 and CS-800 devices switch Web traffic based on content information in the URL while maintaining wire-speed performance on all LAN and WAN interfaces. They serve as an Internet front end for a Web server farm or a network cache server cluster, enabling the deployment of virtual Web sites. Net One has priced the CS-100 at $25,600 and the CS-800 at $50,700. It expects to sell a combined total of 200 switches in the first year of marketing.

Hoping to capitalize on the growth of Japan's still limited extranet market, BAY NETWORKS, INC. gave NET ONE SYSTEMS CO., LTD. exclusive rights to sell its Contivity Extranet Switch 1000 and to provide support services to customers. The $15,000 product allows businesses to set up virtual private networks using the Internet, thereby cutting the costs of private communications networks by as much as 40 percent compared with conventional methods. Bay Networks expected to report a 30 percent jump in Japan revenues in the year through June, although sales there represent only about 5 percent of the company's worldwide business.

Gigabit Ethernet pioneer PACKET ENGINES INC. has given HITACHI INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY CO., LTD. the right to market, sell and support its entire product line. That includes the Spokane, Washington company's G-NIC Gigabit Ethernet network interface cards, the FDR Gigabit Ethernet hub and the PowerRail family of enterprise routing switches. The hub, which supports up to 13 Gigabit Ethernet ports and one 10/100 megabit-per-second port, blends switched and shared design concepts to achieve switch-like performance while maintaining the cost and the ease-of-use advantages of a hub. The PowerRail routing switch is designed to meet the current and future requirements of large enterprise backbones, data centers and other high- performance network environments.

For its part, EXTREME NETWORKS, INC. named SUMISHO ELECTRONICS CO., LTD. to distribute the Summit48 switch, which provides 48 10/100-Mbps ports for desktop connections and two Gigabit Ethernet uplinks for high-bandwidth backbone connections. The Cupertino, California manufacturer claims that the Summit48 is the first product to deliver high density at a low cost. With Layer 2 functionality, it is priced at $12,500, while a switch with Layer 3 capability goes for $18,600 or so. TOKYO ELECTRON LTD. sells other members of the Summit family, while Extreme Networks supplies six Summit models to NEC CORP. on an OEM basis (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 340, January 1998, p. 25).

The Nways Ethernet networking family from IBM JAPAN LTD. has two new members. The 8275 Nways 10Base-T switch, designed for small businesses and workgroups, supports Web management as well as remote network management. It costs $1,500. The 8277 Nways Ethernet RouteSwitch, priced around $9,600, can be deployed as either a workgroup switch or an edge device. The 10/100Base-T switch provides 24 ports with an additional slot to support copper or fiber Fast Ethernet and/or 155-Mbps ATM.

New on the market from 3COM CORP.'s local organization are seven SuperStack II products targeted at a wide range of networking technologies. The key components of the SuperStack II Baseline family are 10-Mbps Ethernet workgroup hubs, an Ethernet workgroup switch with Fast Ethernet uplinks, autosensing dual-speed (10/100-Mbps) Fast Ethernet hubs, and 10/100-Mbps autosensing switches for high-speed connectivity. 3Com is touting the affordability of the Baseline series, which runs from under $400 to $3,400.

The Intel Express220T Series of stackable, dual-speed hubs is aimed at midsized and large workgroups and campus environments. Twelve and 24-port products with 10/100 connectivity are available. Up to eight units can coexist in a single stack for support of up 192 ports. INTEL CORP.'s subsidiary priced the 12-port model at $1,500 and the 24-port version at $2,200.

Positioning the SOHO (small office/home office) market to migrate easily from 10-Mbps Ethernet to 100-Mbps Fast Ethernet one desktop at a time, BAY NETWORKS, INC.'s subsidiary added three products to its NETGEAR family. They are the eight-port 10/100-Mbps DS108 Dual Speed hub, which lists for under $600, and the eight-port DS508 and the 16-port DS516 Dual Speed stackable hubs. Up to eight of the latter two models can be stacked in any combination to accommodate as many as 128 users. The DS516 costs less than $1,300.

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What is said to be the first V.90-compliant modem on the Japanese market has been released by 3COM CORP.'s subsidiary. The U.S. Robotics 56K Faxmodem - External allows Internet users to download information at 56 kilobits per second, although the uplink is limited to 31.2 Kbps. It costs around $175. The company also released the U.S. Robotics 56K Voice Faxmodem Pro - External, which adds a full-duplex speakerphone and other message center capabilities to fast Internet connections. Its pricing is open.

PRIMUS TELECOMMUNICATIONS GROUP, INC., a McLean, Virginia provider of voice, data, private network and value-added services, has applied to the Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications for a Type I common carrier license so that it can provide international and domestic services in Japan over its own network. The company, which launched operations there in October 1997 through an acquisition, now has a Special Type II carrier license as well as international simple resale approval. It is a facilities-based carrier serving both residential and corporate customers. To better serve its retail and wholesale businesses, Primus is installing a NORTHERN TELECOM LTD. switching platform in Tokyo that will connect with its Nortel switch in Los Angeles. The company also has acquired capacity on the new Japan-U.S. Cable Network, which should go into service in the first quarter of 2000 (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 345, June 1998, p. 7).

Another Special Type II facilities-based carrier, TELEGROUP, INC. of Fairfield, Iowa, recently acquired its own transpacific capacity, thereby positioning it to offer better service at better prices to its retail customers. The company has had switching facilities in Tokyo since mid-1997. This summer, it extended service to Osaka. Direct domestic and international dialing is available in both metropolitan areas. Telegroup plans further services upgrades this year.

Through its subsidiary, LUCENT TECHNOLOGIES INC. released the DEFINITY ProLogix for small to midsize companies and branch offices of big organizations. Based on the DEFINITY Enterprise Communications Server hardware and software platform, the PBX (private branch exchange) combines such key system features as group page with DEFINITY ECS call handling and support for advanced applications like networking, wireless, messaging, automatic call distribution/help desk and data access. The open-priced ProLogix provides up to 600 ports and expandability to 25,000 ports.

Data transmission speeds beyond the gigabit-per-second range for local area networks are possible with a new optical-fiber cabling product from LUCENT TECHNOLOGIES INC.'s subsidiary. The SYSTIMAX OptiSPEED cable builds on the capabilities of the SYSTIMAX GigaSPEED cable introduced locally in April 1997. At the same time, the company released the LC Connector optical-fiber connector.

HARMONIC LIGHTWAVES INC. predicts that cable television operators will buy $1.4 million worth of its 1550-nanometer laser transmitters and optical amplifiers in the first year of marketing through SUMITOMO ELECTRIC INDUSTRIES, LTD. The MAXLink family is said to deliver the highest launch power and performance available for long-distance transmission in the CATV and communications industries. Another key selling point is the flexibility and the modularity that the laser transmitters and optical amplifiers provide for fiber-dense applications. As warranted, Sunnyvale, California Harmonic and SEI will work together to develop customized products for the Japanese market.

Advanced Meeting Solutions. That is how MINNESOTA MINING & MANUFACTURING CO. bills four products for remote personnel introduced by its SUMITOMO 3M LTD. affiliate. The $19,200 Dataconferencing System DCS3000 projection system allows participants in different locations to share documents during meetings, whether the information is in the form of paper, transparencies, electronic documents or 3D objects. The Videoconferencing System VCS3000, which costs $8,000, attaches to a monitor to allow face-to-face meetings among distant team members via a simple, intuitive interface and a handheld remote controller. The Audioconferencing Systems ACS2000 Series and ACS3000m, which can accommodate up to 40 participants in a large conference room, are said to provide much clearer, more natural conversations than with speakerphones. It is priced at $1,400. Rounding out the new products is the Ideaboard Conferencing System, which goes for $6,400 to $7,500, depending on configuration.

8X8, INC. tapped MITSUI & CO., LTD. to distribute its ViaTV Videophones. They include an easy-to-use set-top videophone, an inexpensive and flexible modular videophone and a desktop videophone with a built-in display. Regardless of the model, the ViaTV Videophone allows users to make full-color motion video calls over standard telephone lines without a computer. Saying that the Santa Clara, California company's products represent the first practical video communication devices, the trader expects to market 80,000 ViaTV Videophones in the next year through its network of small business and consumer sales organizations.

Like WEBTV NETWORKS INC. (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 345, June 1998, p. 23), ORACLE CORP. and its NETWORK COMPUTER, INC. affiliate are finding Internet access via set-top boxes attached to TV sets a tough sell. To give a boost to NCTV, which arrived in Japan in March (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 343, April 1998, p. 25), Oracle's subsidiary is providing NCTV server and SmartCard technologies to ISPs, including DREAM TRAIN INTERNET INC., as well as to companies like long-distance carrier DDI CORP. so that they can develop services for content providers, which encompass almost any company that wants to promote its products or services on-line.

With a Type I common carrier license in hand from MPT, the local affiliate of ORBCOMM GLOBAL, L.P., a provider of low-earth-orbit satellite data and messaging communications services, will begin operations September 1 (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 341, February 1998, pp. 24-25). The company will provide a wide range of services, but it expects much of its business to come initially from tracking and two-way communications for trucks and other transportation equipment and monitoring of remote environmental sites and industrial equipment.

An exchange rate of ¥140=$1.00 was used in this report.
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