Portal Software Inc., a leading provider of business infrastructure software for Internet and next-generation communications services, announced today that Sony Corp. has licensed Infranet, Portal's customer management and billing software. Sony will implement Infranet to support its new wireless broadband service, bit-drive, which was announced earlier this month. Delivered via a wireless local loop (WLL) network, bit-drive will be rolled out on a test basis in major Japanese cities in May and is planned for launch in July.
Infranet will provide Sony with a customer management and billing platform that has the flexibility and scalability to support the expanding wireless Internet business environment. Bit-drive represents Sony's entry into Japan's expanding telecommunications market. The service will be rolled out in stages, initially providing corporate customers with constant access to a broadband telecommunications infrastructure operating at 1.5Mbps. In the following phases, the company plans to deliver Japan's first fully commercialized, multi-location Internet conferencing system and additional value-added services that support the creation and distribution of images and visual content and provide Internet business cyber-mall.
"With bit-drive, companies will be able to construct a business environment where video and other high-volume data is speedily distributed via a broadband network," said Nobumasa Miyake, general manager of the Network Engineering Department, Telecom Services Division at Sony Corp.'s Communication System Solutions Network Co. "The network, and the value added services it delivers, will be applicable to a wide cross-section of the Japanese business community, from SMEs and SOHOs that want to supplement their existing Internet access with an additional 'always on' Internet connection, to companies who are developing Internet services for residents of apartment buildings -- in fact any organization that is engaged in net-related business."
According to The Strategis Group, global service revenues from fixed wireless broadband technology are projected to reach $US 16.3 billion by 2004. Currently more than 20 million users access the Internet in Japan, including access from mobile phones.
"Sony's broadband initiative is going to change the face of Internet access for a growing number of Japan's new economy, net-related businesses," said Robert Lau, vice president of Portal Software, Asia Pacific. "bit-drive opens up a variety of value-added service opportunities. By successfully supporting these emerging opportunities, Infranet provides Sony and its customers the ability to provision a wide range of tiered services and manage, track and bill for them in this highly competitive and increasingly complex business sector."
From July 2000, a 29-base station WLL network will provide service to Tokyo, Yokohama, Nagoya, Osaka, Kyoto and Fukuoka. A nationwide service is planned for availability from December 2000 and Sony plans to have 100 base stations on the network by March 2001.
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