RealTime IT News

@Home Network Exported to Japan

@Home Network Wednesday formed a joint venture with Jupiter Telecommunications,one of Japan's leading cable operators, and trading firm Sumitomo Corp.

@Home Network, J-COM and Sumitomo will form a new entity named @Home Japan. Initial plans of the trio include developing and marketing a Japanese version of @Home's cable Internet service for Asia that will launch by the year 2000.

@Home will own 42.9 percent of the Japanese venture, which will be valued at 2 billion yen (nearly US$17 million) while Sumitomo and Jupiter will have stakes of 21.4 percent and 35.7 percent respectively.

In order to deliver the Japanese high-speed cable service to their subscribers in a highly fragmented market, @Home Japan has entered into distribution agreements with J-COM and Sumitomo. @Home Japan will leverage @Home Network's technology, content, systems and operating expertise to create a Japanese broadband Internet service.

J-COM and Sumitomo have agreed to commit their combined 5.1 million households currently served with cable access, under the terms of the agreement. The commitment represents potential cable Internet access delivery to more than 10 percent of Japanese households.

The @Home Japan group is reported to have initiated discussions with additional cable operators, in respect to their joining @Home Japan as equity shareholders or distributors.

"@Home's technological and content expertise combined with our local broadband networks, position @Home Japan to become the clear leader in delivering high-speed Internet services in Japan,'' said Tsunetoshi Ishibashi, Jupiter Telecommunications president.

"@Home is already transforming the Internet into a viable, vibrant mass medium in North America and Europe,'' said Atsushi Nishijo, managing director and general manager of Sumitomo's media services division.

Nishijo noted that "@Home's delivery of high-speed Internet services represents one of the most exciting opportunities for cable operators today. @Home Japan will provide turnkey service to cable operators here, enabling them to exploit this opportunity quickly and profitably.''

According to Japan's Ministry of Posts & Telecommunications Internet penetration in Japan is growing very quickly. The percent of households with access to the Internet nearly doubled in Japan during the last 12 months, reaching about 11 percent of the market as reported at the end of March.

"With roughly 15 million Internet users, Japan is an extremely promising market for high-speed cable Internet services and a tremendous next step in @Home's international expansion,'' said John O'Farrell, @Home Network's senior vice president of international operations.

Jupiter Telecommunications is a joint venture between majority owner Sumitomo Corporation and Liberty Media International Inc. Founded in January 1995, J-COM currently provides cable television services to 348,000 homes in Japan and will own 36 percent of @Home Japan.

Sumitomo Corporation is one of the world's leading traders and distributors of commodities, industrial goods, and consumer goods. The trader will maintain 21 percent of @Home Japan ownership.

Redwood City, California-based @Home Network distributes high-speed, cable Internet access and web services to residences and businesses using its own network architecture.

Founded in 1995, @Home Network maintains affiliate agreements with 21 cable companies-worldwide to provide access for customers in the US, Canada, the Netherlands and Japan. The @Home network will maintain a 43 percent stake in the Japan @Home business venture.