Japan satellite broadband content venture launched

A group of companies in Japan led by Mitsubishi Corp., a major trading company, have agreed to start a joint venture to distribute multimedia content via satellite to broadband networks beginning in May, they announced Wednesday.

HitPops Inc., the major shareholders of which are Mitsubishi Corp., electricity utility Tokyo Electric Power Co. Inc. (TEPCO) and satellite operator Space Communications Corp. (SCC), started content distribution tests in May 2000 using one of SCC’s satellites. The partners said the satellite service allows them to avoid jams on the terrestrial network and to reach customers nationwide.

One of the most recent tests was to broadcast a Japan-France goodwill soccer game live from Paris that was welcomed by many Japanese soccer fans because national television only showed the recorded game afterwards.

TEPCO, which is involved in many broadband Internet ventures, sees big business opportunities in the field, according to Takashi Kurita, a spokesman for the company. “We are an electricity company that already has infrastructure for information and communication technology,” he said. “We want to contribute our already existing equipment to the new market and hope to expand our business using it.”

Increasing talk about DSL (digital subscriber line), cable Internet and fibre-to-the-home (FTTH) services have attracted a host of Japanese companies to investigate potential opportunities. Since the launch of services late last year many companies, such as content giant Sony Music Entertainment (Japan) Inc. and major electronic companies NEC Corp. and Fujitsu Ltd., started ventures to step into the market.

Mitsubishi Corp., in Tokyo, can be reached at http://www.mitsubishi.co.jp/. Tokyo Electric Power Co. Inc., in Tokyo, can be contacted at http://www.tepco.co.jp/. Space Communications Corp., in Tokyo, can be contacted at http://www.superbird.co.jp/.