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No. 363, December 1999

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Japanese Companies in the US


With a near-term investment of $1.2 billion, trader MARUBENI CORP. hopes to develop high-speed, high-bandwidth global data communications services into one of its core businesses. The company already has committed most of this money. Marubeni is a partner along with GLOBAL CROSSING LTD. and others in Pacific Crossing-1, the first privately owned and operated transpacific undersea fiber-optic cable network. Marubeni also owns 51 percent of GLOBAL ACCESS LTD., a joint venture with Global Crossing that is building a state-of-the-art terrestrial fiber-optic network to link the two PC-1 cable stations in Japan to Tokyo, Nagoya and Osaka (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 352, January 1999, p. 26). Both the subsea system and the terrestrial network are nearing completion. In addition, the trader is participating along with such companies as BELL ATLANTIC CORP. in laying the FLAG undersea fiber-optic cable network between the United States and Great Britain. This link is scheduled for completion in 2001. With the international infrastructure almost in place, including a Japan-Great Britain connection, Ma- rubeni founded GLOBAL BANDWIDTH SOLUTIONS, INC. This New York City- headquartered subsidiary, which the trader is planning to take public on the NASDAQ over- the-counter market in the summer of 2000, will be in charge of selling data communications capacity to multinationals around the world.

KYOCERA CORP. is likely to become the second source of supply of iDEN (integrated digital enhanced network) handsets to wireless services provider NEXTEL COMMUNICATIONS, INC. The two have signed a memorandum of understanding. To finalize the deal, Kyocera must arrange to license the iDEN technology from MOTOROLA INC., the developer of this know-how — which combines digital cellular service with text/numeric paging and digital two-way radio — and currently the Reston, Virginia company's only handset manufacturer. Nextel indicated that it felt that it had to diversify suppliers because of the recently rapid growth in its subscriber numbers. The Kyocera- made handsets should be available in late 2000.

Already the producer of modems for METRICOM, INC.'s current-generation Ricochet mobile communications service, ALPS ELECTRIC (U.S.A.), INC. will make the modems for the Los Gatos, California firm's forthcoming 128-kilobit-per-second service. The new devices, which will begin shipping in the second quarter of 2000 in anticipation of a summer launch of the Ricochet 128-kbps service, will work with both serial and USB ports on portable computers. Ricochet uses small antennas on the customer's equipment that exchange data with microcell radios mounted on city streetlight and utility poles. These radios communicate with each other and with local wired access points that, in turn, are connected to a wired local network and the national Internet backbone. San Jose, California- headquartered Alps Electric (U.S.A.) primarily is a manufacturer of computer peripherals.

CBS CORP. is using production equipment manufactured by SONY CORP. to create digital high-defini-tion programming for its morning news shows. The contract, which industry sources estimate was worth somewhere between $4.8 million and $5.7 million, includes nine studio cameras and companion control units, plus 39 plasma display monitors that measure 42 inches diagonally. CBS already has some Sony digital broadcast equipment in its studios. It also has digital production systems from Sony archrival MATSUSHITA ELECTRIC INDUSTRIAL CO., LTD. The network's directly owned affiliates are installing MEI equipment for their own digital broadcasting.

An exchange rate of ¥105=$1.00 was used in this report.aaaaa

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