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Titus Expands Japan Cable Net Access Coverage

Titus Communications, which last year became the first Japanese cable television MSO (multi-system operator) to offer combined broadcasting, telephony, and Internet services over its cable network, announced that it will soon extend its Internet access service to two cities in Kanagawa prefecture.

Titus, Japan's second-largest cable TV MSO with over 270,000 subscribers, first began providing Internet access and high-speed data transmission services over its 750-MHz fiber and coaxial cable hybrid network in Kashiwa and Abiko cities, Chiba prefecture, on October 1, 1998.

The scheduled June 1 expansion of Internet access services to Sagamihara and Yamato cities, Kanagawa prefecture, is the next step in Titus' strategy to make a full menu of multimedia services available to all of its subscribers in the near future.

Titus has been providing telephony services in Sagamihara and Yamato cities since the latter half of 1998.

"Our intent is to offer one-stop shopping of telephony, Internet, and cable TV to attract potential subscribers," said Titus.

Tokyo-based Titus Communications, established in January 1995 as a joint venture of Itochu, Toshiba, MediaOne International, and Time Warner, was also (in June 1997) the first cable TV company in Japan to introduce telephony services for its subscribers.

Titus dubs its three services AllTV (television), AllTel (telephony), and AllNet (Internet access).

According to the company, nearly 40 percent of AllNet users subscribe to all three services, while 50 percent subscribe to one of the other services. Only 10 percent are Internet-service-only subscribers.

Some 87.0 percent of current AllNet users have elected for 'basic' 512Kbps maximum download speed) access for 6,000 yen (US$50) per month, while 1.4 percent have signed up for 'premium' (1M bps) access for 15,000 yen (US$125) per month.

Another 11.3 percent use Allnet via a 56K-bps dial-up (telephone) line for 3,200 yen (US$ 26.70) per month.

The remaining 0.3 percent of users are corporate subscribers to Titus' customized VPN (virtual private network) services.

At the end of 1998, over 30 Japanese cable television companies had begun offering their customers cable-based Internet access.

Like these other cable TV firms, Titus is counting on high-speed Internet-access to lure more cable subscribers.

Although Titus is Japan's second-largest MSO, its 270,000 cable TV subscribers put it well behind market-leader Jupiter Telecommunications, which has 720,000 subscribers.

Earlier this year, Titus and Jupiter agreed to construct a 40-kilometer fiber-optic network linking their Tokyo area stations by summer. This 150 million yen (US$1.25 million) network will support joint Internet access and other telecommunications services.

The two will gradually expand network throughput, and eventually may share digital broadcast and Internet access facilities and other major equipment.

Titus also joined with nine cable TV companies in Tokyo and Saitama prefectures in March in a joint venture that will cooperate on Internet access service and digital broadcasting tests.

Test broadcasting will continue for one year, using capacity on a 60-kilometer fiber-optic cable laid by the Ministry of Construction along the Arakawa River.

The overall subscriber base for cable television in Japan at the end of 1998 was estimated at 6.7 million, up 34 percent from 1997.

Of the 973 cable operators in Japan in 1998, however, only slightly more than 10 percent enjoyed a positive net income, according to the Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications.



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