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Japan pushes for more bandwidth

The Japanese government urges the country's biggest telco to adopt ADSL for high-speed Net connections.

The Japanese government has asked the country's biggest telecommunications company to adopt ADSL, a high-speed data transmission technology comparable in speed to optical fiber links.

The Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications called on Nippon Telegraph and Telephone (NTT) to move to asymmetrical digital subscriber line (ADSL) technology, according to a report in the Nihon Keizai Shimbun, Japan's largest business daily.

If NTT complies, this would be a significant endorsement of ADSL, which is also being used by telecommunications companies across the United States on a trial basis but hasn't quite been accepted as the next de facto standard for high-speed data communications.

The newspaper reported that the Ministry urged NTT to conduct tests this summer so the service can be rolled out commercially by next spring.

NTT and most other telecommunications companies now offer primarily dial-up connections to the Internet and other private networks. The fastest dial-up modem is about 56kbps. But ADSL promises to send data over existing telephone wires at rates several hundred times faster than today's modems.

ADSL was specifically developed for the simultaneous delivery of voice, video, and data to the home. ADSL data rates are as high as 8Mbps from the server to the home desktop, while "upstream" rates--for data sent from the user's modem--can reach 1Mbps.

Some Ministry panel members, however, are opposed to the technology, arguing that ADSL service areas should be limited or the spread of optical-fiber technology could be delayed.

In related news, NTT will also begin in-house testing on June 30 of an international telephone service using the Internet, according to the Nihon Keizai Shimbun.

About 250 NTT employees in Tokyo and Osaka and about 50 overseas workers will participate in the experiment, according to the report.

Teleway Japan Corp., a long-distance telecommunications firm, is also considering Internet phone services, the newspaper said. Another large international carrier based in Japan, Kokusai Denshin Denwa, has already completed trials of a "high-quality" Internet phone system.