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A group of 10 companies, including Hitachi Ltd. and Mitsubishi Electric Corp., is planning to launch a next-generation, high-quality communications service via satellites in 2008, company officials said Tuesday.

The group, which includes NEC Corp. and Toyota Motor Corp., will set up a joint venture this fall to work out the finer points of the project. It intends to invite more companies to join the venture, the officials said.

The service is expected to utilize three new satellites to be launched by the Japanese government in 2007.

The satellites will provide continuous coverage in the airspace above Japan, enabling moving vehicles to access high-speed broadband communications with the use of specialized terminals that will be developed by participating companies.

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