NEC Corp., KDDI Corp., Japan Telecom Co. and Matsushita Electric Industrial Co. said Monday they will jointly develop broadband Internet content and services.

The firms, whose Internet subscribers total a combined 10 million, will launch a consortium in late May before starting feasibility studies aimed at developing content, infrastructure and services in June, they said.

The consortium will also create common platforms for services such as instant messaging and Net-based phones, hopefully by autumn, they said.

During a news conference in Tokyo, NEC Senior Vice President Kenji Yoshiyama said the development of attractive broadband Net content is the top priority.

“It’s impossible for one company to create (content),” he said. “It would be useless even if you produced one or two (Net-based movies), given there are 365 days in one year.”

Broadband Net-connection is expected to require further investment for Internet-service providers, while connection charges have kept falling amid price competition among thousands of ISPs across the country.

The consortium’s makeup has yet to be finalized, however, including the extent to which the Net-related services of the four firms will be integrated.

Matters including whether the consortium will take the form of a single joint corporation or whether it will have a single Web site have yet to be resolved.

The four firms have called for the participation of other Internet providers, cable TV operators and content providers in a “mega-consortium.”

The four companies separately operate Internet service provider units.

As of February, BIGLOBE of NEC had 4.05 million subscribers; DION of KDDI had 2.15 million users; ODN of Japan Telecom had 1.9 million users; and Panasonic hi-ho of Matsushita had 1.67 million subscribers.

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