Sony, Tokyu, Toyota launch joint venture

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TOKYO--Sony Corp., Tokyu Corp. and Toyota Motor Corp. announcedMarch 9 an agreement to set up a company that will create a broadbandnetwork throughout Japan and develop services to use it.

Under the working name Advanced Internet Integration Planning Co., theKita Shinagawa-based venture plans to produce its own content suitablefor a high-speed broadband Internet, to open the Internet infrastructureto other content providers and to assist cable TV companies in developingtheir own Internet services.

The company will be established at the beginning of April and a businessplan finalized by October. At that stage, the company will create servicesfor Japanese cable TV companies and invite them to become partners in thenew business. The company will launch its services in January 2001.

Already more than 20 million people in Japan use the Internet. However,most Japanese Internet users send and receive data via narrow band telephone lines that cost the same as making a telephone call.

There is a growing demand for a low-cost, high-speed, continuously connected Internet infrastructure.

But some cable TV companies do not have practical experience in providingInternet services, and many places in Japan lack the infrastructure to access Internet services.

At the same time, Internet content providers can't provide the desiredhigh-quality content, since the majority of users connect to the Internetvia a telephone line.

Copyright March 2000, Crain Communications Inc.

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