Sony, Tokyu, Toyota alliance to supply content for broadband networks

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TOKYO--A trio of Japanese companies are banding together ascontent suppliers in an effort to kick start the growth of broadband Internet access via cable TV systems in Japan.

The majority of Japan's 20 million Internet users connect with the Internet via telephone lines that are both slow and expensive. Although some cable TV services offer Internet access, they lack the skills to supply content suitable for high-speed broadband Internet services, backers of the new venture say.

Sony Corp., which produces movies and markets games for Playstation2, Tokyu Corp., the railways company that runs cable TV lines alongside its tracks, and Toyota Motor Corp. will create a company provisionally named Advanced Internet Integration Planning Co., which will offer several network-related services in Japan for broadband networks such as cable TV.

The company will be established in April and by October will create relevant services for Japanese cable TV companies and invite them to become partners in the new business. The full service will launch in January 2001.

Organizers say high speed, large-volume data transfer at a fixed price via a cable-based Internet service is in high demand, but capital investment and practical know-how is needed to develop and manage such an Internet service. Some cable TV companies do not have practical experience in providing Internet services, and many places in Japan still lack Internet services via cable infrastructure.

The new company plans to produce its own content suitable for a high-speed broadband Internet, to open the Internet infrastructure to othercontent providers and to assist cable TV companies to develop their ownInternet services.

Copyright March 2000, Crain Communications Inc.

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