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Sony preps satellite digital content delivery service

Applies for broadcasting licence, readies spin-off company

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Sony has firmed up its plan to distribute digital content via satellite. According to Japanese business daily Nihon Keizai Shimbun, the company will today apply for a satellite data broadcasting licence. Once Japan's Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications has granted a licence, Sony will create a wholly owned subsidiary worth some Y500 million ($472,590) to use it. Sony's satellite scheme emerged back in March after initial Japanese press reports suggested the company was developing an Internet-based music delivery system. Soon after, the company confirmed that is was creating a content distribution system, but one that operated by satellite. Initially, the service was provided through News International's PerfecTV satellite network, but it's clear that now it has proved itself, Sony wants to bring the whole thing in-house. In any case, the move ties in with Sony's vision that in the digital world content will ultimately be delivered to consumers via broadband networks rather than physical media. That's the basis for the upcoming PlayStation 2, which will ultimately become not just a games console but a home's gateway to the Net and the content transmitted across it. Sony plans to offer PlayStation 2 owners a digital content delivery system in 2001 -- a year after the console's launch. The delay is the time Sony estimates it will take for sufficiently broadband networks to be put in place to handle data-intensive applications like streaming DVD-quality video. Its satellite system could easily be viewed as one way of providing such a broadband delivery network. Sony isn't the only Japanese company to view satellite links as the next stage in broadband networking. NTT DoCoMo and NTT Data yesterday applied for a joint satellite digital data broadcasting licence. And a consortium of ten businesses, including Fujitsu, Canon and Hitachi, are to form a joint venture to provide satellite-based digital data broadcasting services, Nihon Keizai Shimbun said. ®

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