Japan-US Business Report Logo

No. 352, January 1999

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American Companies in Japan


TELECOMMUNICATIONS

A $110 million project is underway to construct a terrestrial fiber-optic network linking Tokyo, Osaka and Nagoya as well as connecting those major metropolitan areas with the local cable stations of Pacific Crossing-1, the first privately owned and operated underseas cable network across the Pacific. GLOBAL CROSSING LTD., the prime mover behind PC-1, and MARUBENI CORP., one of two Japanese backers of the $1.2 billion transpacific fiber- optic cable (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 345, June 1998, p. 7), are in charge of building the roughly 745-mile terrestrial network. For this purpose, they formed GLOBAL ACCESS LTD., in which Global Crossing has a 49 percent interest. The latest in fiber-optic transmission technology will be incorporated in the network, which will be composed of multiple network rings to provide diverse routing options and redundancies among all the points of presence. Network operation is scheduled to start in the first quarter of 2000.

JAPAN TELECOM CO., LTD. will begin field trials in April 1999 of Internet Protocol-based networking solutions from CISCO SYSTEMS, INC. as part of the development of the long-distance carrier's next-generation network infrastructure called PRISM, short for Progressive and Revolutionary Integration on Service Media. Japan Telecom's immediate goal for PRISM is to cut the cost of delivering existing services while providing a platform for next-generation data, voice and video services. In time, PRISM could replace the carrier's current voice switches, ushering in a single, integrated multimedia network. PRISM is being developed as an IP+ATM (asynchronous transfer mode) "new-world" network infrastructure. Initially, it will integrate with Japan Telecom's data networks, starting with its IP/Internet Open Data Network, frame-relay and ATM services. Networking equipment from Cisco runs all of these offerings.

The third generation of mobile communications services based on the capacity-boosting, quality-enhancing wide-CDMA (code-division multiple access) standard could become available in Japan from a second source as soon as 2001. That at least is the current thinking of cellular phone network operator AIRTOUCH COMMUNICATIONS INC., JAPAN TELECOM CO., LTD. and NISSAN MOTOR CO., LTD. They have formed IMT-2000 PLANNING CO., LTD. to study the feasibility of deploying a W-CDMA network (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 348, September 1998, p. 21). San Francisco's AirTouch Communications has a 26 percent stake in the new company versus shares of 40 percent and 34 percent for Japan Telecom and Nissan, respectively. If the partners decide to go ahead with the project, which could require more than $5 billion to build the infrastructure, they will bring in other investors. NTT MOBILE COMMUNICATIONS NETWORKS, INC. plans to be the first cellular operator in the world to commercially deploy a W-CDMA system (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 340, January 1998, p. 25).

The ability of the MainStreetXpress 36100 Access Concentrator to give the SOHO (small office/home office) market and remote users access to the Internet or to intranets/extranets from a single, cost-effective ($41,000 and up) platform has convinced the subsidiary of manufacturer NEWBRIDGE NETWORKS CORP. that it can sell 100 of these systems to service providers. MainStreetXpress 36100 acts as the network collection point for digital (integrated services digital network) and analog modem calls over telephone lines. These calls then are routed over a frame-relay or an ATM network. Because the system is both scalable and flexible, Newbridge Networks says that service providers can offer a variety of services to thousands of remote users.

Capacity-constrained enterprises and ISPs have a new option in FOUNDRY NETWORKS, INC.'s BigIron 8000 switching router. The Sunnyvale, California company's product provides second-generation, hardware-based Layer 2/3/4 switching and multiprotocol routing on a single, chassis-based platform. With its ability to handle as many as 64 Gigabit Ethernet ports and move as many as 100 million packets of information per second, Foundry Networks claims that BigIron 8000 can deliver at least 100 times the performance of traditional routers at less than 10 percent of the cost. Distributor MITSUI & CO., LTD. has priced the switching router around $213,700. It also has introduced another Foundry Networks product, the $68,400-or-so FastIron II wiring closet switch. It provides 72 autosensing, autonegotiating 10/100-megabit-per-second ports and scales from two to eight Gigabit Ethernet ports. With a switching capacity of 128 gigabits per second, FastIron II has a throughput of 23 million packets per second.

With other companies crowding into the market for switching routers, CABLETRON SYSTEMS INC., one of the first manufacturers to introduce this technology, hopes to stay a step ahead of the competition by bringing WAN interface support to its SmartSwitch Router 2000, 8000 and 8600 family (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 349, October 1998, p. 27). The SSR WAN modules, says Rochester, New Hampshire-based Cabletron, extend Layer 4 application-level control, quality of service and security features across the enterprise, delivering private networks at lower cost, greater bandwidth utilization and better application performance. The new products include two- and four-port serial interfaces operating at port speeds of up to 8 Mbps and a two-port high-speed serial interface operating at port speeds as fast as 52 Mbps.

The mate to the Summit48 desktop switch from EXTREME NETWORKS, INC. is on the market through the Cupertino, California manufacturer's subsidiary (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 346, July 1998, p. 26). The Summit24 provides 24 switched 10/100-Mbps autosensing ports and a Gigabit Ethernet port. It has an 8.5-Gbps nonblocking switch fabric and a forwarding rate of 5.1 million packets per second. A Summit24 with Layer 2 switching costs $11,500. Adding Layer 3 switching capabilities raises the price to $19,700. The products making up the extensive Summit family are distributed directly by SUMISHO ELECTRONICS CO., LTD. and TOKYO ELECTRON LTD.

These products will be going up against two new wiring closet members of the Catalyst family from world market leader CISCO SYSTEMS, INC. The modular Catalyst 4003 can support up to 36 Gigabit Ethernet ports or as many as 96 10/100-Mbps ports through a 24-Gbps nonblocking switching fabric, while the fixed-configuration Catalyst 2948G offers 48 10/100 ports and two Gigabit Ethernet ports for uplinks. Both provide wire-speed switching on all ports. The Catalyst 4003 has a switching capacity of 18 million packets per second; the comparable figure for the Catalyst 2948G is more than 10 million.

CISCO SYSTEMS, INC.'s subsidiary also expanded its lineup of routers. It released two products in the new Cisco 800 series that connect small offices and telecommuters whose companies have Ethernet LANs to the Internet or the corporate network using an ISDN network. Incorporating end- to-end security and data privacy features, both models come with an Ethernet port. At the same time, Cisco's local operation introduced the modular Cisco 1720 virtual private network access router for small and midsized businesses and branch offices of larger companies. The product features two WAN interface card slots, an autosensing 10/100 port and an auxiliary port as well as the security features required for VPNs.

Through its subsidiary, Irvine, California-based LINKSYS has jumped into the market for 10/100-Mbps autosensing hubs. Its marketing pitch for the EtherFast five-port 10/100 Autosensing Hub is much like that of other suppliers since the product allows workgroups to upgrade to Fast Ethernet as their demands require rather than all at once. One unusual feature of the Linksys product, though, is that when all five ports on the hub are running at 100 Mbps, the uplink port is capable of sending data distances of 328 feet at the same 100 Mbps.

Companies looking for a segment switch and workgroups are the target markets for the Intel Express 520T Switch. The scalable 12-port Fast Ethernet switch, which INTEL CORP.'s subsidiary priced at $3,800, provides dedicated 10/100-Mbps throughput for each port.

At the same time that INTEL CORP.'s local unit was strengthening its product lineup, it was revamping its marketing strategy to better position itself for the stiff competition in Japan's networking equipment market. Instead of using multiple distributors to market its LAN switches and hubs, Intel decided to make SHOWA ELECTRIC WIRE & CABLE CO., LTD. its sole primary distributor. Other marketers with which the company dealt now will buy equipment from Showa Electric. Given its new responsibilities, the Tokyo company formed a 10-person team to provide market development and technical support to secondary distributors. It also opened a technical center to do product assessments and maintenance work on Intel networking equipment.

For between $75 and $215 -- the cost of some other companies' 10-Mbps Ethernet adapters -- small business owners can buy a NETGEAR adapter from BAY NETWORKS, INC.'s subsidiary and also gain support for 100-Mbps Fast Ethernet speed and bandwidth. One of the two products released is the autosensing 10/100-Mbps NETGEAR FA310TX Fast Ethernet PCI Adapter for computers with a peripheral component interconnect interface.

ASCEND COMMUNICATIONS, INC.'s marketing unit has released the Series56 Digital Modem module. Designed for the central-site MAX and MAX TNT WAN access switches that the company sells to corporations, ISPs and other network service providers, the module allows people using V.90-compliant or V.34-compatible modems to download data from the corporate intranet or the Internet at speeds of up to 56 kilobits per second.

The Andover, Massachusetts-based Raytheon Wireless Solutions division of RAYTHEON CO. is supplying its Raylink Wireless LAN on an OEM basis to INTERNET PRO CORP. Designed for portable computer users whose jobs require them to move around, the system offers connectivity to a wired Ethernet LAN within 500 feet at a data rate of up to 2 Mbps. Raylink consists of two parts: the Raylink PC Card, a wireless LAN adapter (PCMCIA Type II-E) that Tokyo-based Internet Pro is selling as the CUTE10, and the Raylink Access Point, a wireless LAN-to-Ethernet bridge that provides direct access to the wired Ethernet LAN infrastructure.

Market newcomer E-COMMS INC., a Gigs Harbor, Washington manufacturer of network management hardware, selected RIKEI CORP. as its exclusive sales and technical support representative in Japan and elsewhere in the Asian Pacific. E-COMMS's flagship product is the E-COMMANDER network controller, a hardware/software system that provides real-time monitoring and control of a wide variety of remote LAN and WAN hardware devices from a central location. Add-on modules are available that allow network managers to expand the capabilities of the E-COMMANDER as well as the number of LAN and/or WAN devices managed.

New for the corporate intranet from CISCO SYSTEMS, INC.'s subsidiary is a family of systems that provide a variety of network video services, including video on demand, live video and scheduled video broadcasting. Featuring a rack-mounted, modular design, the IP/TV 3400 Series Servers are made up of three different products, each of which delivers a specific set of video functions. The IP/TV 3410 Control Server is the core of the system. It simplifies content, bandwidth and server management for program and network managers. It also manages both locally and remotely clusters of IP/TV 3420 Broadcast Servers, which are designed for multicasting live and prerecorded programs, and IP/TV 3430 Archive Servers, which are used mainly for distributing VOD programs. Furthermore, the IP/TV 3410 communicates program information directly to client desktops.

A fully localized version of HAUPPAUGE COMPUTER WORKS, INC.'s WinTV PCI board is available through Tokyo-based NET JAPAN CO., LTD. The $250 product provides live TV from either a cable TV system or a TV antenna in a resizable window on a PC screen. In the six weeks through the end of January, Net Japan expected to sell more than 1,000 of the Haupaugge, New York company's PCI boards.

The ambitious project by Washington, D.C.-based WORLDSPACE CORP. to provide direct satellite delivery of digital-quality radio programming to people in developing countries is moving closer to reality. The company's first satellite is in orbit, ready to start service in 1999 to countries in Africa and the Middle East, and four Japanese consumer electronics companies have unveiled digital satellite radio receivers designed to carry the service. WorldSpace set the basic guidelines for the receivers, but HITACHI, LTD., MATSUSHITA ELECTRIC INDUSTRIAL CO., LTD., SANYO ELECTRIC CO., LTD. and VICTOR CO. OF JAPAN, LTD. were free to come up with their own designs. The final phase of testing of the receivers, which involved sending signals from the satellite, was to be completed by the end of January.

An exchange rate of ¥117=$1.00 was used in this report. aaaaaa

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