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No. 351, December 1998

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Japanese Companies in the US


TELECOMMUNICATIONS

All of the contracts that Japanese companies have let to date for communications or broadcast satellites have gone to either HUGHES SPACE AND COMMUNICATIONS CO. or to SPACE SYSTEMS/LORAL INC. That record has been broken. SPACE COMMUNICATIONS CORP. and JAPAN SATELLITE SYSTEMS, INC. chose the Lockheed Martin Missiles & Space group of LOCKHEED MARTIN CORP. to build a communications satellite to be launched in the third quarter of 2000. N-SAT- 110 will use an A2100 platform equipped with 24 Ku-band transponders to deliver direct broadcast, telephone, data and other telecommunications services across Japan. MITSUBISHI ELECTRIC CORP., which was a subcontractor on SCC's Superbird satellites, will build unspecified components for the payload. The contract, which also includes a ground station, reportedly is worth $124 million. SCC and JCSAT spokesmen said that they went with Lockheed Martin because the company offered them an accelerated production schedule and the best-value contract proposal. Its fast turnaround time, the satellite supplier said, reflects the fact that the assembly and testing facilities at its Sunnyvale, California Commercial Satellite Center are adjacent to each other. At the same time, the A2100's modular design reduces the parts count and simplifies construction while also cutting the weight of the bus and its cost. SCC and JSAT will jointly operate N-SAT-100, an arrangement forced on the otherwise competitors by the Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications since both wanted to operate communications satellites in the geostationary orbit used by the NHK public broadcasting system.

In another announcement that raised some eyebrows on both sides of the Pacific, BROADCASTING SATELLITE SYSTEM CORP. revealed that it was negotiating a contract with ORBITAL SCIENCES CORP. for the construction and launch of two direct-to-home TV broadcast satellites. BSAT-2a and BSAT-2b, an in-orbit backup, will provide satellite-based digital TV service to subscribers in Japan after launch in the fall of 2000 and the spring of 2001, respectively, onboard ARIANESPACE S.A. rockets. BSAT, which is owned by NHK and a number of companies, currently provides direct-broadcast analog TV services to more than 12 million customers in Japan using a pair of satellites built by HUGHES SPACE AND COMMUNICATIONS CO. Dulles, Virginia-headquartered Orbital said that BSAT selected its three-axis-stabilized NovaStar lightweight (1,210 pounds without propellants) platform because of its high reliability, advanced performance and capacity and relatively low cost. If BSAT contracts with Orbital, SPACE SYSTEMS/LORAL INC. will build the Ku-band communications payload for the two BSAT-2s.

SANYO ELECTRIC CO., LTD. is supplying digital cellular telephones to the Sprint PCS (personal communications services) subsidiary of SPRINT CORP. The $150 phones are said to provide between 20 percent and 30 percent more talk and standby time than competing products. Based on CDMA (code-division multiple access) technology, which is marketed in Japan as cdmaOne, the handsets also are capable of operating in analog mode when digital service is not available. Sanyo Electric also sells CDMA cell phones through distributor BRIGHTPOINT, INC. of Indianapolis (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 342, March 1998, p. 8).

In its latest attempt to ease congestion on its transpacific Internet backbone, INTERNET INITIATIVE JAPAN INC. disclosed plans to expand bandwidth between Japan and the United States to 290 megabits per second by mid-December from 245 Mbps. The increase will involve doubling IIJ's Osaka-New York connection to 90 Mbps from 45 Mbps. The company's 200-Mbps Tokyo-West Coast backbone will not be increased at this time, but the major Internet services provider left open this possibility when it simultaneously said that it would further upgrade its facilities next spring. IIJ's Japan-U.S. backbone is connected directly to other countries in Asia through A-Bone, an Asian Internet backbone operated by an affiliate of the Tokyo-based ISP.

An exchange rate of ¥121=$1.00 was used in this report.
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