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No. 359, August 1999

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American Companies in Japan


Two more cable TV operators have deployed COM21, INC.'s ComPORT cable modems and Com-CONTROLLER headends to deliver a variety of broadband services to their customers. Spokesmen for KDD MEDIA NET CO., LTD. and NAGOYA CABLE NETWORK CO., LTD., which together serve some 400,000 homes, said that they selected the Milpitas, California supplier's products in large part because its asynchronous transfer mode-based technology allows multiple applications to operate from the same cable modem platform, including high-speed data, telephony and desktop videoconferencing. To support the rollout of the new services, KDD Media Net and Nagoya Cable Network expect to purchase $1.5 million worth of cable modem equipment from Com21 over a two-year period.

Convinced of the tremendous market potential in Japan of DSL technology for delivering high-speed Internet access over telephone lines, XPEED, INC. opened a branch office in Kawasaki, Kanagawa prefecture. The Santa Clara, California company manufactures DSL modems for installation in customers' offices and homes. Xpeed is using the office to market its products directly to communications carriers and to provide technical support.

The Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications awarded COYOTE NETWORK SYSTEMS, INC. a Type II operating license and approved a point of presence for the Westlake Village, California company. These moves allow Coyote's carrier subsidiaries to originate and terminate traffic in Japan. The company's INET Interactive Network System unit markets international long-distance services, mainly to Japanese and French speakers in the United States, while its American Gateway Telecom business provides wholesale international long-distance services.

MCI WORLDCOM, INC. has extended its global ATM service to Tokyo. The company, which bills itself as the first facilities-based carrier to offer end-to-end international ATM service, said that the expansion was in response to the demand of multinational corporations for high-bandwidth ATM connectivity to more countries. Having ended sales of its own network equipment in the spring of 1998 because of low volume, COMPAQ COMPUTER CORP.'s subsidiary now is marketing other companies' devices under its brand name. The latest is a high-density, dual-speed switch with a gigabit-rate uplink to the backbone manufactured by CABLETRON SYSTEMS INC. and sold as the Compaq SW3324. This $6,300 response to the demand for bandwidth among workgroups and departments provides dedicated 10/100-Mbps connections to the desktop as well as gigabit-per-second links to the corporate backbone.

NATURAL MICROSYSTEMS CORP., a manufacturer of communications interface boards, has set an ambitious target for its year-old Tokyo subsidiary: sales of $8.3 million in 2000, triple the current figure. To advance toward this goal, the Framingham, Massachusetts company will introduce this fall through such channels as NTT INTERNATIONAL CORP. a pair of hardware platforms that enable IBM-compatible PCs to handle a variety of data communications and networking applications, including intelligent networking and Internet telephony switching. The TX3000 and the TX3220, which support multiple standard protocols, provide similar functions but differ in performance. The boards range in price from $8,300 to $12,500.

In back-to-back moves, SNAPTRACK, INC., the world leader in what is known as personal location technology for wireless devices, opened a wholly owned marketing and technical support subsidiary in Tokyo and signed an agreement with NEC CORP. to expand the availability of SnapTrack-based location information services in Japan. The San Jose, California company's technology uses navigational data from GPS (global positioning system) satellites to precisely locate cell phones and other wireless equipment. This capability allows carriers to provide a variety of value-added location- based services. These already are available on a limited scale, but SnapTrack's technology offers several advantages over existing GPS-based systems, including speed and accuracy. Under the deal with NEC, the electronics heavyweight will integrate SnapTrack's Enhanced GPS software into its mobile communications system positioning server for sale to wireless services providers. Shipments of the NEC system are scheduled for yearend. SnapTrack first made a splash in Japan last year when it tied up with NTT MOBILE COMMUNICATIONS NETWORK, INC. to deliver the world's first commercial wireless location service (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 348, September 1998, p. 21). It is slated to debut in early 2000.

Four TV networks now offer WINK COMMUNICATIONS, INC.-enhanced programming and e-com-merce interactive TV capabilities. The addition of a broadcaster in Fukuoka on Kyushu brings the installed base of Wink-enabled homes to more than 150,000 out of the 55 million homes reached by these networks. The Alameda, California firm's technology allows TV networks and advertisers to create interactive content that accompanies regular programming and ads. Viewers that have a Wink adapter in their set simply click on the remote control during the enhanced program or ad to receive program-related information or product samples and coupons. They also can make purchases directly. At present, 31 TV programs in Japan are Wink-enhanced.

Satellite-to-car radio broadcaster CD RADIO INC. selected ALPINE ELECTRONICS, INC. as one of the companies to design and develop receivers for its future digital service, which will broadcast up to 100 channels of music and other programming to motorists in the United States starting as soon as the end of 2000. Under the agreement, Alpine will work on a three-band (AM/FM/CD radio) receiver for installation by automotive manufacturers. It also will design and develop receivers for sale in the aftermarket. Production could start in 2001.

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

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