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No. 357, June 1999

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American Companies in Japan


TELECOMMUNICATIONS

Japan has a new facilities-based communications carrier, the eighth authorized by the Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications since this market was deregulated in February 1998. The latest company to receive a Type I license is RSL COM JAPAN K.K. With this go-ahead, the wholly owned unit of New York City's RSL COMMUNICATIONS, LTD. will connect its international gateway switch in Tokyo via existing fiber-optic cables to the RSL global communications network, which includes an international gateway in Los Angeles. The company now has a special Type II license that allows it to provide international simple resale services using circuits leased from Type I carriers. Starting in October, according to current plans, RSL COM will offer an expanded range of services to businesses and consumers at a lower cost and a higher quality than at present. Transpacific private-line services will be the primary focus initially of a business that is expected to generate revenues of $819,700 in the first year.

In yet another demonstration of its determination to become a major supplier of carrier-class equipment in Japan, LUCENT TECHNOLOGIES INC. expects to double staffing at its Makuhari, Chiba prefecture R&D center to between 60 and 70 people by yearend. Opened last December and run by Lucent's Bell Laboratories unit, the facility is working on passive optical networking equipment. PON technology uses lasers to carry communications signals over fiber-optical networks and is the key to NIPPON TELEGRAPH AND TELEPHONE CORP.'s plan to bring high- bandwidth, multimedia services to homes and offices nationwide by 2010. Lucent already has received two PON-related contracts from NTT (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 349, October 1998, p. 26). It intends to leverage the R&D work done at its Chiba prefecture center to commercialize products for global markets. Bell Laboratories also operates a R&D facility in Kanagawa prefecture that specializes in wideband CDMA technology for Japan's third-generation wireless communications system.

Tokyo now is home to one of just three CISCO SYSTEMS, INC. facilities around the world that can quickly generate blueprints of customers' in-house communications networks. The internetworking giant spent $819,700 to equip the Cisco Customer Center at its Japanese headquarters. Diagrams of clients' network layouts can be produced in about two hours.

NIPPON TELEGRAPH AND TELEPHONE CORP.'s plan for an extremely high-speed extranet service based on next-generation Internet Protocol technologies is creating opportunities for collaboration between American communications companies of all types and NTT-ME CORP., the actual backer of the XePhion broadband service (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 356, May 1999, p. 31). The latest company to tie up with the recently formed NTT subsidiary is CISCO SYSTEMS, INC. Their goal is to combine the technology underlying XePhion with Cisco's VoIP (voice over IP) and IP/TV know-how in order to deliver quality audio, video and data over fiber-optic networks to corporate Japan. The new partners also intend to move into the technical training field by commercializing products that integrate NTT-ME's CALAT Internet and network technology educational system with Cisco's Networking Academy.

In a move designed to better position it to win IP-based equipment contracts from big services providers launching high-bandwidth multimedia networks, CISCO SYSTEMS, INC.'s subsidiary formed a marketing alliance with OKI ELECTRIC INDUSTRY CO., LTD., one of the Big Four hardware suppliers to NIPPON TELEGRAPH AND TELEPHONE CORP. and other local carriers. The primary thrust of the tie-up is equipment based on Cisco's MPLS (multiprotocol label switching) technology, which is optimized for the low-cost transmission of massive multimedia data files. The partnership extends beyond marketing hardware and related software to customizing high-throughput communications networks for clients and maintaining and managing these systems.

Capitalizing on its ties overseas, INFONET SERVICES CORP., which supplies global networking services to multinational companies, signed an agreement with KDD CORP. under which the international carrier will resell to its customers worldwide the El Segundo, California firm's frame-relay services. These services are locally supported in close to 50 countries. .....On a different level, EQUANT, a major source of managed data network services for global businesses worldwide (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 353, February 1999, p. 29), has won a contract from TOMEN CORP. to supply data networking services in more than 24 countries. By July, frame-relay services will be available to support Tomen's global e-mail and corporate intranet applications. The trader already uses the Atlanta firm's remote dial-in services worldwide and its frame-relay services in North America, Latin America, Asia and Europe.

Internet-based communications services provider CALLNOW.COM, INC. signed a multiyear agreement with LYCOS JAPAN K.K. under which the Internet portal will market its products. The deal is similar to one that CallNOW.com has with LYCOS, INC. in Europe. The New York City company bills itself as a one-stop shop for communications services on the Internet. Customers can sign up on-line for national and international long-distance, cellular rentals, calling cards and other services. Activation is instant. CallNOW.com provides real-time call monitoring as well as on-line billing.

Following the lead of its Rochester, New Hampshire parent, the subsidiary of CABLETRON SYSTEMS INC. launched a new series of SmartNetworking Services that are designed to minimize network operating costs while maximizing network performance by linking real-world business processes and communications requirements to network capabilities. The various components allow information technology managers to set, enforce and track automated rules that govern such network operations as security, bandwidth and quality of service. The first component rolled out in Japan involves policy-based networking to address security and QoS for LANs and WANs.

IBM JAPAN LTD. has extended its line of Nways Ethernet switches with the addition of the $3,800 desktop Model 416 from the IBM 8275 line for high-performance, wire-speed Ethernet LAN switching. It also introduced the 9783 AccessPlus F200, a $6,000 package that, according to the company, provides the industry's highest quality and widest range of voice compression technology for frame-relay networks.

Users of handheld or palm-size computing devices running the Windows CE operating system now can access data and information on corporate networks thanks to the CompactCard Ethernet 10 from the marketing unit of XIRCOM, INC. The first such product from the international leader in connectivity solutions for mobile computing professionals, the Windows CE-based CompactCard, priced at $170 or so, provides high-speed connections to 10-Mbps networks for e-mail access, Internet browsing and data synchronization.

Continuing a recent string of design wins in Japan, EXTENDED SYSTEMS, INC. has landed a contract worth more than $2.5 million over the next year to provide infrared LAN connectivity for a new Windows CE-based tablet computer produced by TOSHIBA COMPUTER ENGINEERING CORP. and marketed by TOSHIBA TEC CORP. The Boise, Idaho firm claims to be the first to develop infrared LAN drivers for the Windows CE platform. The IR LAN connection in the TCEC product will be made via a cradle supplying the tablet device with power as well as a hot dock to the LAN. Toshiba TEC already has a volume order for the handheld computer from a convenience- store chain that plans to use it as an advanced point-of-sale product for better data management and increased efficiency.

The latest LUCENT TECHNOLOGIES INC. wireless LAN product to be marketed in Japan by NCR CORP.'s subsidiary is the WaveLAN/IEEE Turbo. This $800 system is being advertised as a two- in-one product. For office settings, it has a high-speed mode that provides data transmission rates equivalent to those of wired Ethernet LANs. In standard mode, the WaveLAN/IEEE Turbo offers extended range, making it suitable for retail, warehousing, manufacturing and similar environments. Given the WaveLAN/IEEE Turbo's combination of features and price, NCR's marketing arm believes that it can sell 200,000 units over the next three years.

Interest in enabling the networking of PCs and other digital devices in the home continues to gather momentum. The latest pairing brings together SHAREWAVE, INC. and KYUSHU MATSUSHITA ELEC-TRIC CO., LTD. El Dorado Hills, California ShareWave specializes in high- bandwidth, multimedia-capable wireless networking technologies that support digital, interactive multimedia content delivery to devices throughout the home. This know-how will be melded with KME's expertise in consumer electronics products to commercialize before the end of 1999 high-speed, low-cost home networking devices. These products, to be marketed by KME under the Panasonic brand name, will operate initially at 11 Mbps. Even higher speeds will be supported in the future. The partners say that they will reveal details about their forthcoming products later this year.

3D programming is coming to TV viewers in Japan. C-3D DIGITAL, INC., which operates the world's first 24-hour TV network with 3D programming, has signed 3D TELEVISION CO., LTD. as the exclusive distributor of its programming. The Salt Lake City, Utah firm's content initially will be available through SKYPERFECTV CORP., Japan's largest direct-to-home satellite broadcaster. As part of the agreement, 3D TV contracted to buy a minimum of 30,000 C-3D Digital Imaging Systems, the device people need to view the 3D channel. This system can handle signals from cable and terrestrial transmissions as well as from satellite broadcasts.

An exchange rate of ¥122=$1.00 was used in this report.aaaaaa

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