HANOVER, GERMANY (02/23/2000) - Matsushita Electric Industrial Co. Ltd. and Matsushita Communications Industrial Co. Ltd., which are better known by their Panasonic brand name, and British Telecommunications PLC (BT) today announced plans to work together to deliver digital music via wireless services.
"I am pleased to announce an agreement with BT to develop mobile music distribution services for customers around the world," said Seinosuke Kuraku, managing director of Matsushita Electric Europe (Headquarters) Ltd., speaking this morning here at the CeBIT trade show in Hanover.
"One of the first services will enable customers to request music of their choice and download it to their music systems," added Kuraku who also said trials of the service will begin in the U.K. in the third quarter of this year.
Matsushita will produce a recorder/player unit for the service that stores the downloaded music on SD (Secure Digital) format memory cards. The SD format was developed and is being promoted jointly by Matsushita, Toshiba Corp. and SanDisk Corp.
Matsushita has been developing such a system with NTT Mobile Communications Network Inc. (NTT DoCoMo), Japan's largest mobile telephone operator, since late last year and in January the two announced plans to form a joint venture to launch a commercial service from April [See "NTT DoCoMo, Matsushita Tie on Music Service," Jan. 28].
While the Japanese system will begin from April, it is not expected to really begin attracting significant numbers of subscribers until NTT DoCoMo launches its third generation W-CDMA (wideband code division multiple access) wireless network in the second quarter of 2001. Unlike current networks, where data transmission is limited to 64K bits per second (bps), the new network will support speeds as high as 384K bps making downloading music files much faster.
Similarly, today's announcement with BT doesn't focus on current technologies but on GPRS (general packet radio system), a system designed to enhance current networks and boost their data transmission speeds up to 115K bps, and the third generation UMTS (univeral mobile telecommunications system) technology.
Matsushita Electric Industrial Co. Ltd., in Tokyo, can be found online at http://www.mei.co.jp/. British Telecom, in London, is online at http://www.bt.com/.