Sony, Toyota enter data service venture with IIJ

A joint data communications venture established by Toyota Motor Corp., Sony Corp. and Internet Initiative Japan Inc. announced Tuesday that it will begin high-speed data services of up to 600 megabits per second in April for corporate users.

Rates for the services will be announced separately around March but will be less than half those of existing data communications service providers, Crosswave Communications Inc. President Koichi Suzuki said. Suzuki concurrently serves as president of IIJ, Japan’s first Internet service provider.

The services will include leased backbone lines with transmission rates of 1.5 Mbps to 600 Mbps. The 600-Mbps lines will be Japan’s first and fastest service for corporate users, the firm claims. Crosswave Communications will begin services in the Tokyo, Nagoya, Osaka and Hokuriku regions in April, expanding them later to cover all prefectures except Okinawa by March 2000.

“Sony has the content and the platforms, and IIJ has the technologies (for data communications services). They will be a very strong combination,” said Hiroaki Yoshida, general manager of the information and telecommunications business division at Toyota.

Toyota and Sony both have 30 percent stakes in the new firm, with IIJ providing the rest. The joint venture is presently capitalized at 100 million yen, but that will be increased to 8 billion yen by April.