Finalizing a wide-ranging agreement first announced a year ago, SONY CORP. will pay $187.5 million to acquire a 5 percent share in GENERAL INSTRUMENT CORP., the dominant supplier of set-top boxes to cable TV operators (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 341, February 1998, p. 8). At the same time, Sony will license its Aperios real-time operating system for digital set- top boxes and its Home Networking Module software for linking boxes to the Chicago-headquartered manufacturer for use in its second-generation digital set-top box products. They will be shipped to TELE-COMMUNICATIONS, INC. and other CATV operators during 1999. Last May, the then pending partners unveiled a prototype of a system that combined GI's DCT-5000+ interactive digital set-top box device and Sony's iLINK interface. It was designed to provide high-speed Internet access and video telephony as well as the ability to control digital devices from various makers from a TV set (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 345, June 1998, p. 7).
In the hope of responding more nimbly to the fast-expanding demand from communications carriers for equipment that enables them to deliver high- bandwidth voice and data services to customers, NEC AMERICA, INC. spun off its Access Products Division into a freestanding company. Capitalized at $10 million, NEC ELUMINANT TECHNOLOGIES, INC. is headquartered in Herndon, Virginia, with a R&D center in Portland, Oregon and a software development laboratory in Ann Arbor, Michigan. The 150-person company will continue to market and support APD's asynchronous multiplexers, digital loop carrier systems and SONET (synchronous optical network technology) multiplexers. eLUMINANT's mandate also includes enhancing the current product line, introducing new products that provide a bridge between existing copper- based loops and fiber optics and developing a new line of access products that are fiber-based systems.
An exchange rate of ¥117=$1.00 was used in this report.aaaaaa