Japan's first ADSL Internet service launched

New Coara, an Internet service provider on Japan's westernmost main island of Kyushu, today launched the country's first Internet access service using ADSL (asymmetric digital subscriber line) technology.

The Metallic Coara service was switched on this morning in Oita City and Yukisugu Fujino became Japan's first ADSL service subscriber, the company said. Charges range from $US68 to $93 per month depending on service level and whether the customer rents or buys an ADSL modem.

The service costs about the same as 35 to 50 hours dial-up Internet use depending on the service provider and assuming a local access point. Critics of NTT's local charges, which have remained unchanged for more than ten years, say these high rates are stunting the growth of the Internet in Japan and keeping average monthly use around 10 hours for most dial-up users. It is hoped that services like ADSL will lead to a boom in the use of the Internet in Japan.

The launch of commercial service comes just over a week after Nippon Telegraph and Telephone (NTT) announced its plans to launch ADSL. NTT holds an almost complete monopoly on the local loop in Japan and any ADSL service has to be operated over its lines. Oita is one of three areas in which NTT is first offering commercial service. The others are limited areas of Tokyo and Osaka.

NTT is offering a best-effort ADSL service with a maximum downstream speed of 512K bits per second (bps) and a maximum upstream speed of 224K bps. Problems with substandard copper cable laid years ago forced NTT to go for a much slower service than is typically available on xDSL systems.

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