RealTime IT News

Japanese Network 'Made In The USA'

One of Japan's largest backbone network providers is making a $30 million investment in U.S. Internet routing and switching equipment to ramp up for the country's increased metropolitan bandwidth demands.

Internet Initiative Japan, Inc., tapped ONI Systems Corp. and its dynamic transport system product line Thursday to expand the metro network ring and increase the productivity of an Internet that now delivers data traffic in a variety of flavors, from dialup and digital subscriber line (DSL) to wireless handhelds and digital phones. The deal calls for a two-year phased project incorporating the new equipment.

According to the Computer Industry Almanac, Inc., Japan ranked second, behind the U.S., with more than eight million Internet users at the end of 1999. According to a report released in June by Japan's Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications (MPT), there are now about 27 million Internet users in Japan, 10 million using a wireless connection.

Koichi Suzuki, IIJ chief executive officer, said his company's continued expansion and entrance into new markets demanded a flexible, scalable solution.

"IIJ is the leading advocate for Internet access and Internet solutions for Japan," Suzuki said. "After an extensive evaluation of the ONI solution, we found that it met our objectives for low cost configuration, scalability, flexibility and service protection. The DTS will easily scale with our project growth, making it a wise long-term investment for us."

Metro network rings are increasingly in demand as the fiber network deployment switches its focus from international and national backbones to inter-city networks. The change in focus is caused by Internet traffic bottlenecks in major cities around the world as more and more people use bandwidth-draining applications at work and home.

IIJ is one of the leading backbone providers in the Asia Pacific region, with its A-Bone connecting Japan and the U.S. to countries including China, Korea, Hong Kong, Thailand and the Philippines. The company also owns majority positions in various Web hosting, help desk and systems integrator companies throughout the Asian region and in the U.S.

Hugh Martin, ONI Systems president and chief executive officer, said the Asian market is particularly vulnerable when it comes to data "blackouts."

"The Asian market, and Japan in particular, is perfect for metro optical networking solutions," said Martin. "Broadband services, both wireless and wireline, are growing very rapidly there and current network infrastructures cannot meet the demand. All-optical networking gives carriers the ability to assign wavelengths on a protocol-independent basis, which is very important in meeting the demand of new broadband data-centric services like gigabit Ethernet, fibre channel, in addition to existing SONET/SDH based services."

Internet use in Japan has a shaky history, with communications resting solely in the hands of the powerful Nippon Telegraph and Telephone Corp. . It wasn't until 1985, when the Japanese government passed the Telecommunications Business Law to promote competition, that other companies were able to make headway in communications.

Even so, strict regulations by the MPT hampered the development of networks by free-market agencies. The ministry is slowly easing its hold on network development, even publishing the "Manual for Market Entry into Japanese Telecommunications Business" and