Toshiba, Toyota and Fujitsu to Pioneer Digital Multi-channel and Multimedia Broadcasts to Mobile Users|
27 April, 1998
TOYOTA MOTOR CORPORATION
Tokyo--Toshiba Corporation, Toyota Motor Corporation and Fujitsu Limited today announced that they will take the lead in establishing a joint-venture company to bring digital satellite broadcasts and value-added information services to mobile users throughout Japan. The new company, provisionally named Nihon Mobile Broadcasting Corporation (NMBC), will be incorporated in May 1998, and is expected to start nationwide broadcasts of multi-channel programming and multimedia information services by 2001.
NMBC will pioneer a new dimension in satellite broadcasts by targeting mobile users for the first time, including drivers and passengers of vehicles, and provides them with high quality digital music, video and information services, among them car navigation and Internet services. The company will use Toshiba's Radi-Vision, or S-band Mobile Multimedia Satellite concept, and broadcast on the 2.6GHz bandwidth, known as the S-band frequency. This bandwidth allows use of antennas much more compact than those typical of home systems, and enables signals to be received even in vehicles moving at high speed.
The joint venture has already attracted considerable interest from potential investors in fields including broadcasting and automobile manufacturing. The three main investors will be joined by other five companies by the end of May and four more companies are expect to take a stake in new company by October 1998. Further companies will be invited to participate as NMBC's business develops. The joint venture will have an initial capitalization of 500 million, which is projected to rise to 40 billion in 2002.
Specifications for Japan's S-band broadcasting standard are being finalized at this time for Japan's Ministry of Post and Telecommunications by the Association of Radio Industries and Businesses. On their completion, NMBC will start trial broadcasts, with the aim of obtaining a broadcasting license in 1999. The company will then develop and install the essential infrastructure of broadcasting equipment and transmitters, in preparation for a 2001 commencement of services transmitted via satellite, which are scheduled for launch in 2000. Initial services will concentrate on automotive applications, such as CD-quality car audio and car navigation. The service is forecast to have 2 million subscribers in 2003, rising to 10 million in 2010.
The dramatic evolution in digitization that is promoting a fusion of communications and broadcasting is supporting the emergence of digital, multi-channel broadcasting around the world. So far, the main focus has been on fixed receivers, which require a parabolic antenna and receiver optimized for home use. These services cannot reach mobile users or drivers. However the potential of the mobile market is now attracting attention. Last year, the World Radio Conference authorized allocation of frequencies for mobile services, and advances in such areas as satellite technology and delivery of audio and multimedia signals via MPEG-4 based technology make mobile services a practical proposition.
Industry study groups around the world are now investigating commercial digital broadcasts for mobile services. Among them is the Mobile Satellite Broadcasting Group in Japan. This was established in July 1997, bringing together 13 companies, including broadcasters, equipment makers and trading companies. In September 1997 it proposed to the Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications that such a service be inaugurated.
The group also undertook a six-month study of the technology and market possibilities for Toshiba's RadiVision, Toyota's continuing research into satellite transmission of the huge volumes of data required for such mobile digital services as Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS) and other information and communication systems, and for Fujitsu's development of ITS as well and mobile computing, including use of multimedia satellite broadcasting services as a new infrastructure for mobile applications.
The report concluded that Japan's technological base and the 70 million vehicles registered in the country made it fertile ground for developing a market for commercial services. Toshiba, Toyota and Fujitsu are now working to realize the market described in the group's report.
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