Nintendo, Microsoft launch satellite-based online service

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TOKYO--Nintendo, Microsoft Corp. and Nomura Research Institute are banding together in Japan to launch an online information and entertainment service that connects the user's personal computer to the Internet using a tiny satellite dish rather than tying up a telephone line. The satellite system will allow data and graphics to be transferred much faster than conventional telephone lines.

The membership-based service goes online in the middle of 1997. It will offer general and business information, entertainment and online shopping. Users must install a satellite modem to connect their PC to the service. Unlike other online services, users can receive data broadcast continuously without paying an hourly fee or tying up a phone line. A phone line will be needed, however, to send e-mails back to online services.

Nintendo is responsible for developing the satellite modem and software for the system. The system relies on the satellite data broadcast system of St. Giga, a related company of Nintendo.

Microsoft will supply exclusive information and services and will manage membership via the Microsoft Network. Nomura Research Institute will manage and operate the overall system.

Nintendo will own 40% of the joint venture and Nomura Research Institute and Microsoft each control 30%.

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