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No. 359, August 1999

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Japanese Companies in the US


Success does not often elude SONY CORP., but it has in the North American wireless telephone handset market. By the end of September, the company will exit this business and let go about 200 engineering, sales and marketing employees at San Diego, California-based SONY ELECTRONICS, INC. Sony is an also-ran in the U.S. cellular phone market, in part because it did not start marketing here until 1995. Sales also were hurt by a recent recall and stiff price competition. Sony will continue to work on third-generation, or wideband CDMA (code-division multiple access), digital mobile phone technology. It also will remain a minority partner in QUALCOMM PERSONAL ELECTRONICS, a San Diego joint venture with QUALCOMM INC. that makes CDMA and PCS (personal communications services) phones.

MATSUSHITA COMMUNICATION INDUSTRIAL CORP. OF U.S.A. of Peachtree City, Georgia will develop and design special receivers for CD RADIO INC.'s satellite-to-car radio broadcast service. This will include as many as 50 channels of commercial-free, CD-quality music programming and up to 50 additional channels of news, sports and entertainment programming for an expected monthly subscription fee of $9.95. New York City-headquartered CD Radio expects to launch commercial operations at the end of 2000. Matsushita Communication Industrial will be one of several companies developing CD Radio receivers for factory installation by car and truck builders and for sale in the aftermarket. It currently makes automotive audio products for sale under the Panasonic brand.

In a contract win that should help it make up some ground on front-runners MATSUSHITA ELECTRIC INDUSTRIAL CO., LTD. and SONY CORP. in the digital broadcast equipment field, HITACHI ELECTRONICS, LTD. will supply roughly $833,300 worth of studio cameras and related equipment to CBS CORP. The order covers five SK-3000P multistandard high-definition television-compatible portable cameras that feature a 2.2-million-pixel CCD (charge-coupled device). CBS will use the cameras in its Hollywood studios.

Industry sources report that KDD SUBMARINE CABLE SYSTEMS INC. and LUCENT TECHNOLOGIES INC. will join forces on a project designed both to lower the cost of laying undersea fiber-optic cable networks and to boost transmission speeds. The prospective partners, which will equally split the undertaking's estimated $83.3 million developments costs, hope to complete a test system by the summer of 2000 and expect commercialization to occur around 2002. One novelty of the proposed system is its seamlessness. Signal routers will be incorporated into terrestrial base stations rather than along the network. KDD-SCS and Lucent also are seeking a record- breaking transmission speed of 1 terabit per second. In comparison, the Japan-U.S. Cable Network now under construction across the Pacific initially will operate at 80 gigabits per second with the potential to be upgraded to 640 gigabits per second. KDD-SCS is the prime subcontractor on the competing Pacific Crossing-1 undersea fiber-optic cable network. It, too, will move data at a rate of 80 Gbps.

Expanding the menu of global network services available to its Japanese corporate customers, KDD CORP. is rolling out a frame-relay service in the United States. Its New York City subsidiary will lease capacity for the high-speed data communications system from American carriers.

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

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