RealTime IT News

Microsoft Buys Japanese Broadband Stake From MediaOne

Microsoft Corp. Tuesday bought a majority stake in a major Japanese cable broadband player Titus Communications from MediaOne International, harkening its entry as an Internet access player in Japan.

The agreement supports Microsoft's (MSFT) blueprint for broadband deployment and will also support its wireless plans, the company said.

With the cost of Internet access in Japan still high through the state telco NTT, the 60 percent majority stake in Titus could prove important to Microsoft's ISP service. While recent moves towards fee cuts have encouraged higher use, most users have taken to wireless services as means to bypass the complications of wired access. There are more mobile phones than fixed line subscribers in Japan, according to reports, so Microsoft's wireless plans are a necessary part of the action.

The decision pitches the U.S. industry leader against NTT and mobile operator NTT Docomo, whose i-mode mobile Net service is often credited for the proclivity for wireless.

Local partners Itochu and Toshiba, which each control 20 percent of the cable firm, will remain part of Titus. The current management team will not be altered. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

"I'm delighted we have sold our stake in TITUS to Microsoft," said Gary Ames, president and CEO of MediaOne International. "The sale is in line with our strategy of selling a significant portion of our international portfolio in preparation for the merger into AT&T."

Titus operates cable TV, IP telephony, and high-speed Internet access services through its seven franchises.