Sony announces launch of transmission services

Sony Corp. announced Tuesday that it will offer wireless, broadband data transmission services to corporate users in July, with monthly rates starting at 70,000 yen.

The move marks the first solo entry of an electronics maker into the fast-growing telecommunications business.

Using technology called Wireless Local Loop, Sony will offer, starting from July, a two-way data transmission service with a maximum capacity of 1.5 megabits per second in Tokyo and the cities of Yokohama, Nagoya, Osaka, Kyoto and Fukuoka.

The company plans to expand the service to other areas in December.

A 24-hour Internet access service will also be offered to corporate users at a monthly rate starting at 150,000 yen. The service will provide the same transmission speed of up to 1.5 mbps.

Users will be able to link with antenna bases and other users by using a rental dish and server, which cost much less than optical fiber networks.

Sony will also offer the high-speed Internet access in apartment buildings. The monthly charge per apartment will be around 5,000 yen, which includes both telephone line use and Net access charges, the company said.

Sunobu Horigome, corporate executive vice president of Sony, said that the firm aims to eventually offer wireless broadband services to home users, although the system is still too large and expensive for that.

“(Sony) will accelerate its broadband business in the year 2000, and (the wireless service) will be an advance guard,” he told a press conference in Tokyo. Sony will begin test operations in May and expects to sign up around 1,000 users in the first fiscal year.