Japan-US Business Report Logo

No. 361, October 1999

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American Companies in Japan


TELECOMMUNICATIONS

The premier government communications research organization in Japan will install CONTINENTAL ELECTRONICS CORP.'s PowerStar L50 50-kilowatt transmitter, which is known for its accurate, synchronized timekeeping and frequency capability. The Communication Research Laboratory will use the transmitter to coordinate time and frequency with other stations around the world. DENKI KOGYO CO., LTD., Dallas-based CEC's representative, arranged the deal with the Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications-run lab.

With its Pacific Crossing-1 U.S.-Japan undersea fiber-optic cable system nearing completion, GLOBAL ACCESS LTD. has decided to build out its broadband, seamless global network by extending it into Asia. It enlisted MICROSOFT CORP. and SOFTBANK CORP. as minority participants in project organizer ASIA GLOBAL CROSSING LTD. This company will construct a nearly 11,000-mile-long undersea network linking Japan with its neighbors. It also will build high-capacity city rings and terrestrial systems tied to the undersea cables. That infrastructure, known as East Asia Crossing, will enable the partners to offer an array of services throughout the region, including state-of-the-art telehouses, Web hosting, e- commerce and other advanced services as well as low-cost, high-quality telephony to businesses and consumers. Global Crossing, which will be responsible for the management and operation of the East Asia Crossing network, contributed to Asia Global Crossing its 57.75 percent share of PC-1. Microsoft and Softbank each put up $175 million in cash, giving them a combined 7 percent stake in the joint venture. East Asia Crossing, expected to cost some $1.3 billion to build, will be constructed in two stages. The first phase, a length of 6,300 miles, will be finished by yearend 2000. It will connect PC-1 at a landing station in Japan with Taiwan, Singapore, Hong Kong, Malaysia and the Philippines. The second phase, covering 4,700 miles, has a June 2001 completion date. This part of the project involves linking Japan to two stations in China, one in South Korea and one in Taiwan. Composed of four fiber pairs that have self- healing capabilities in case of an outage, East Asia Crossing initially will have a capacity of 80 gigabits per second, but it is upgradable to 2.56 terabits per second through dense wavelength- division multiplexing. KDD SUBMARINE CABLE SYSTEMS INC. is the prime contractor for East Asia Crossing's first phase. This company partnered with MARUBENI CORP. and Global Crossing, which operates from Los Angeles, on PC-1. KDD-SCS also is that project's primary subcontractor.

INTEL CORP. has moved into the Internet services hosting business — a diversification that extends to Japan, where one of a network of worldwide Internet services centers should be operational in the first half of 2000. The new INTEL ONLINE SERVICES, INC. specializes in what are called second-generation Internet application hosting services. These include better hosting reliability and faster development of e-business solutions for customers of all sizes. They also encompass the purchase, integration and deployment of all the hardware and software needed to run e-business applications. The site of the Internet services center in Japan has not been chosen, but the facility will duplicate Intel Online Services' initial center in Santa Clara, California. This location can host more than 10,000 servers and has the capability to deliver second-generation application hosting services as well as first-generation colocation. It also features redundancy and heightened physical security. Intel Online Services already has the first customer for its Japanese center — NEC CORP. and its Biglobe Internet on-line service. The two plan as well to collaborate in the Internet services field, although many of the details are still up in the air. Intel's announcement of an Internet hosting center in Japan came just weeks after PSINET INC. launched a similar initiative there (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 360, September 1999, p. 28).

On a related front, INTEL CORP. brought its Internet Service Provider Program to Japan. Targeted at ISPs, application service providers and value-added resellers that could benefit from help in designing and constructing Internet infrastructure, the program draws on Intel's expertise in semiconductor technology as well as in network equipment and virtual private networks. The company's subsidiary already has signed agreements with the local unit of PSINET INC., OSAKA MEDIA PORT CORP. and seven other ISPs, plus MITSUBISHI CORP., NTT SOFTWARE CORP. and OKI ELECTRIC INDUSTRY CO., LTD.

RAPID LINK, which offers Internet Protocol-based voice and data services, acquired ICSC, an Internet services provider located in Okinawa. The purchase enables the Atlanta company, which already operates a long-distance service in the prefecture, to give its customers the option of adding dial-up Internet access to their accounts.

Accessing the Internet through a TV set would seem to be an extremely marketable service in a country like Japan where home computers are not the norm. However, WEBTV NETWORKS INC., the provider of such a service, has found the going harder than anticipated. It now has marketing help beyond that supplied by FUJITSU, LTD., which owns 25 percent of WebTV's subsidiary. Major cellular phone distributor HIKARI TSUSHIN, INC. is selling the WebTV service at its 1,750-plus stores under the HIT-Mail TV name. Unlimited Internet access costs $39.80 a month, including the cost of a keyboard and a set-top box. WebTV is owned by MICROSOFT CORP.

Even if it is the undisputed world leader in networking equipment for the Internet, CISCO SYSTEMS, INC. had to be pleased to be selected to supply NTT COMMUNICATIONS CORP.'s IP- based virtual private network service. The long-distance/international carrier will use Cisco's Gigabit Switch Router 12000 series products for the optical IP networking core backbone and Cisco 7500 series routers for edge routing. The result will be a seamless, end-to-end solution based on Multi Protocol Label Switching. That technology will enable NTT Communications to differentiate service classes for individual data flows, thereby ensuring privacy, quality of service and any-to-any connectivity. Its platform scalability largely sold the carrier on Cisco's IP VPN solution. NTT Communications is set to roll out IP VPN services in the first quarter of 2000.

Although contracts with big corporations obviously are vital to its business success, CISCO SYSTEMS, INC. has decided that there are many unexploited sales opportunities among smaller companies that are starting to look into LAN and networking technologies. To reach this market, its subsidiary, which now deals mainly with 100 or so systems integrators, hopes to sign up as many as 300 sales agents in the next year. It already has reached agreement with a DAIWABO INFORMATION SYSTEM CO., LTD. affiliate. Sales through that company could total $92.6 million over three years. CABLETRON SYSTEMS INC. also is trying to broaden its marketing channels (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 360, September 1999, p. 30).

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Existing CISCO SYSTEMS, INC. distributors have two new products to sell. The Cisco 7100 Series of integrated VPN routers gives enterprise customers a secure, scalable platform for cost-effective remote access, intranet and extranet connectivity using public data services. It does this by integrating high-speed routing with six key VPN components: tunneling, data encryption, security, firewall, advanced bandwidth management and service-level validation. The Cisco 7100 Series lists for $46,300 and up. New as well is the Cisco 3660 Multiservice Platform for branch and regional offices. An extension of the Cisco 3600 Series, it provides the density, performance and expansion capability required for applications combining data, video, analog voice and digital voice. Pricing of the platform starts at $18,200.

Switching technology pioneered by ARROWPOINT COMMUNICATIONS, INC. has enabled what the Westford, Massachusetts company calls a new breed of Web-specialized switches. These products optimize not only connectionless IP traffic (packets per second) but also the connection-oriented traffic generated by e-commerce applications. Put another way, Web switches direct Web content requests to the best site and the best server at a given moment based on server loads and proximity as well as application and content availability. ArrowPoint's pair of Content Smart Web switches is being marketed by SUMISHO ELECTRONICS CO., LTD. The CS-100, which costs $40,300, is a compact switch that provides a combination of high-speed flow switching and content intelligence for small to midsize Web sites. The CS- 800, a carrier-class modular switching platform, enables the provisioning of high-volume Web hosting, e-commerce, application hosting or other Internet application services. It lists for $111,100.

Bandwidth constraints increasingly are hamstringing the operations of ISPs in Japan. INFOLIBRIA, INC., a developer of content distribution and management products, has a solution for this problem. Moreover, its answer soon will be more widely available now that the Waltham, Massachusetts company has signed MARUBENI SOLUTIONS CORP. as a distributor in addition to TOKYO ELECTRON LTD. InfoLibria's DynaCache Web cache system enables ISPs to move frequently requested content to the edge of their networks, close to end users, so that when sought, it does not need to travel across the Internet. Marubeni Solutions will sell this product, which starts at $21,800, as well as the MediaMall streaming media device, which gives Internet users access to broadcast-quality audio and video on their PCs, and the Content Commander management system. It thinks that DynaCache sales could total $9.3 million over three years.

LUCENT TECHNOLOGIES INC.'s subsidiary has on the market a product designed to facilitate the convergence of voice, video and data over the same network at the pace a company requires. The Cajun P330 Switching System provides modular functionality. Up to 10 units can be stacked together for a total of 400 10/100 ports per stack, yet the system can be managed as a whole. Redundancy is built into the system, as is the ability to have Ethernet and ATM (asynchronous transfer mode) access in the same stack. A Cajun P330 unit costs about $5,600. CHIYODA JOHO KIKI CO., LTD. is one of the firms that will be marketing the switch.

DSL (digital subscriber line) technology is ready for prime-time, large-scale deployment, according to LUCENT TECHNOLOGIES INC. Its breakthrough Stinger DSL access concentrator allows services providers to deliver high-quality voice to their business and residential customers over a single copper connection along with high-speed data, Internet access and video services. Thus, the platform, which resides in the central office and supports all versions of DSL, can cost-effec-tively meet the growing demand for new broadband services. The system can provide up to 16 phone lines per customer as well as dedicated data and Internet access. Lucent's subsidiary will ship Stinger before yearend. Although pricing has not been decided, it starts at $440 per port in the United States. The platform can handle 672 ports per chassis and 2,016 ports per rack.

In what both describe as a win-win situation, LUCENT TECHNOLOGIES INC. and IWATSU ELECTRIC CO., LTD. tied up to develop and sell private branch exchange-based CTI solutions for small and midsize businesses. For the big American manufacturer of communications gear, the alliance gives it the chance to extend its PBX market reach beyond corporations and call centers to Iwatsu Electric's customer base of smaller companies. At the same time, the Japanese partner will be able to draw on Lucent's technical expertise in CTI systems.

The SoundStation conference phone, a POLYCOM, INC. product, will be marketed by SUN TELEPHONE CO., LTD. The SoundStation features three directional microphones, a volume- adjustable speaker and all-digital speech processing. That technology, the San Jose, California manufacturer says, enables the system to adapt automatically to changing room and telephone line conditions for natural, full-duplex conversations without clipping or distortion. Sun Telephone expects the SoundStation to duplicate its success elsewhere in the world, where it is the top-selling conference phone. It projects annual sales of 2,000 units of the $1,300-and-up system.

With Japan likely to be the first country to roll out third-generation, or wideband, mobile communications systems, INTERDIGITAL COMMUNICATIONS CORP. plans to open an office in Tokyo early in 2000 to position itself as a key supplier of the coming technology through sales and licensing. The King of Prussia, Pennsylvania company already has licensed its second- generation TDMA (time-division multiple access) and CDMA know-how to a number of Japanese makers of wireless equipment, giving it an inside track on licensing the 3G technology that it now is developing to these and other makers. InterDigital is working on both system-on-a-chip solutions and components for the coming era of mobile communications. ......In the meantime, the licensing arm of INTERDIGITAL COMMUNICATIONS CORP. signed a royalty-bearing TDMA patent license agreement with JAPAN RADIO CO., LTD. Under it, the company received an up-front payment from JRC covering the manufacturer's past sales of handsets for the PHS (personal handyphone system) and PDC (personal digital cellular) standards. InterDigital also will receive money on future sales of these products.

The 10-month-old subsidiary of the self-described world leader in PC Card modems and network interface cards for linking mobile and remote computer users to the corporate network, the Internet and other on-line services, XIRCOM, INC., has found the going in Japan tougher than it expected, even though portable machines are so prevalent. It now is projecting sales in the year through September 1999 at $7.4 million rather than the $13 million originally estimated. To get revenues on a faster growth track, the Thousand Oaks, California supplier wants to work with five distributors rather than the one it uses now to get its products into more retail channels. At the same time, the Xircom unit hopes to trim distribution costs and its margin so that retail prices can be cut by as much as 20 percent to 30 percent.

PROXIM, INC., the Sunnyvale, California maker of the very popular RangeLAN2 wireless LAN product family, is bringing its Symphony Cordless Networking Suite to Japan. Billed as the first consumer wireless networking solution available there, the line eliminates the constraints imposed by the installation of just one phone jack in most homes and small offices because Symphony allows PCs and laptops to be located in the most convenient place for the user. I-O DATA DEVICE, INC. will market and sell the suite, which employs frequency-hopping spread- spectrum radio frequency technology for secure and interference-free connections. Symphony products include the Cordless PCI Card for desktops; the Cordless PC Card for laptops; the Cordless Modem, an optional stand-alone product for shared Internet access; and the Cordless Ethernet Bridge, another stand-alone solution for shared broadband Internet access.

Atlanta's ACCORD TELECOMMUNICATIONS named NISSEI SANGYO CO., LTD. to market what it calls a next-generation multipoint control and gateway unit for the videoconferencing and collaboration market. The MGC-100 connects up to 84 ISDN remote sites. It also provides a single platform for handling IP and ATM conferences, linking together 132 of the former sites and 80 of the latter. Within 1999, Nissei Sangyo expects sales of the MGC-100 to total $1.9 million. It priced the base, eight-port model at $18,500. The high-end configuration goes for $555,600.

An exchange rate of ¥108=$1.00 was used in this report.

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