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No. 355, April 1999

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American Companies in Japan


Months behind schedule, the local affiliate of ORBCOMM GLOBAL, L.P. launched commercial two-way monitoring, tracking and messaging services through a network of low-earth-orbit satellites (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 346, July 1998, p. 28). ORBCOMM JAPAN LTD. hopes to sign up 5,000 businesses in the initial year of operation and to be producing annual revenues of $25 million within three years. Customers have to pay about $1,700 for a handset, plus monthly usage charges ranging between $12.50 and about $42. The delay in start up was attributed to the collapse of trader OKURA & CO., LTD., the leading Japanese shareholder in ORBCOMM Japan. However, industry sources said that the company was having trouble attracting subscribers. ORBCOMM Global, now the top investor in ORBCOMM Japan, is a partnership between ORBITAL SCIENCES CORP. of Dulles, Virginia and Canada's TELEGLOBE INC.

In a deal valued at $38 million, ORBITAL IMAGING CORP. gave NTT DATA CORP. exclusive rights to market in Japan high-resolution imagery from OrbView-3 and OrbView-4, which are scheduled for launch this year and next. The contract commits NTT Data to purchase and distribute a minimum of $25 million worth of imagery over five years. The big data communications company also must buy a $13 million or so ORBIMAGE ground station to receive and process OrbView images. The pair of satellites will provide 1-meter-resolution panchromatic (black and white) and 4-meter-resolution multispectral (color) imagery. NTT Data hopes the arrangement with the ORBITAL SCIENCES CORP. affiliate will make it the leader of Japan's GIS industry.

In a new agreement, competitor SPACE IMAGING INC. gave the National Space Development Agency the exclusive right to receive and process satellite imagery received from two Indian remote-sensing satellites for distribution in Japan. NASDA's commercial arm, the Remote Sensing Technology Center of Japan, actually will handle marketing and sales of the 5-meter-resolution panchromatic and 20-meter-resolution multispectral images. A ground station in Kumamoto prefecture that Tokai University operates will collect the imagery from the two Indian satellites. Space Imaging, which recently signed a pact with MITSUBISHI CORP. (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 353, February 1999, p. 31), has had exclusive rights since 1995 to market and distribute imagery from the satellites outside India.

The nationwide rollout of commercial CDMA digital cellular service, started last summer (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 347, August 1998, p. 26), will be finished this spring. In late March, three more of DDI CORP.'s regional affiliates began service under the cdmaOne name in the areas of Shikoku, Hokuriku and Chugoku. In April, two other DDI regional services providers and NIPPON IDOU TSUSHIN CORP., which serves Tokyo and areas south, will launch the last parts of the nationwide network. The whole system uses base stations and mobile switches supplied by MOTOROLA INC.

In the latest contract in a series dating back to 1995, SYMBOL TECHNOLOGIES, INC. is providing a 2-MB version of its Spectrum24 radio to the Retail Systems Division of FUJITSU, LTD. for integration into wireless data communications products. The Holtsville, New York company's Spectrum24 open-architecture wireless network is said to provide high- performance data as well as voice-over-IP communications with excellent immunity to interference. Its frequency-hopping technology ensures robust and reliable data throughput, while the encryption capabilities of the Spectrum24 provide data security.

Asian market newcomer XEDIA CORP., a supplier of Internet access routers, has named SUMISHO ELECTRONICS CO., LTD. to distribute its Access Point products in Japan. The Littleton, Massachusetts start-up describes its line as a new class of Internet access router, one that gives network providers the performance, security and service level control required for the next generation of business-class Internet services. Sumisho Electronics already has installed Access Point products at Ritsumeikan University in Kyoto to provide prioritization and policy control for Web hosting and other kinds of network traffic.

Metropolitan area network architectures were optimized in the past for voice traffic. Now, they need to be able to handle IP traffic that is growing by leaps and bounds in a scalable, robust and cost-effective way. CISCO SYSTEMS, INC.'s answer is the Dynamic Packet Transport family of packet-optimized transport solutions. DPT delivers high-bandwidth, resilient fiber rings optimized to carry large and fast-expanding volumes of packet traffic. Its subsidiary has priced the DPT line card for the company's 12000 GSR equipment from $30,800. .....Responding similarly to service providers' need for an easy way to deliver legacy voice services while still being prepared to offer IP services, CISCO SYSTEMS, INC. introduced the Cisco ISR 3303. This access platform, which starts at $40,000, provides SONET/SDH (synchronous digital hierarchy) interoperability and, at the same time, reduces costs.

In mid-June, IBM JAPAN LTD. will begin shipments of its parent's self- described branch office in a box. Otherwise known as the IBM 2212 Access Utility but sold in Japan as part of the Nways family, the four models and the seven adapters making up the line allow easy connections between a company's LAN and its mobile work force via remote LANs or between branch offices and the Internet or the corporate backbone using advanced, multiprotocol virtual private networks. The IBM 2212 Access Utility, which ranges in price from $2,100 to $12,800, also gives businesses the flexibility to expand to meet future networking needs.

What are billed as the broadcasting industry's fastest video servers for both satellite and terrestrial-based digital transmission are being shipped by HEWLETT-PACKARD JAPAN LTD. The key to this claim is the use of Fibre Channel networking technology in the HP MediaStream servers 700 and 1600. This enables them to provide transfer rates that are as much as 45 times faster than real time. The additions to the HP MediaStream line also offer immediate on-line access to more than 1,000 hours of stored video material from a single chassis that can house up to seven channels (the 700 model) or 16 channels (the 1600 model). Pricing for the entry-level HP MediaStream servers begins at $125,000. Nonetheless, HP Japan has penciled in sales of about 50 systems a year.

In a deal that could help a struggling DIRECTV JAPAN INC. sign up more customers (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 354, March 1999, p. 32) while allowing METRO-GOLDWYN-MAYER INC.'s expansion-minded MGM International Television Distribution unit to move into Japan's growing pay-for-view market, the two have signed a multiyear contract. Under it, DirecTV Japan has the right to air current and upcoming MGM and United Artists films on a pay-for-view basis as well as any of their theatrical products released since December 1997.

An exchange rate of ¥120=$1.00 was used in this report.aaaaaa

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