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(Nikkei BP Group)

(No.1 High-Tech News Site in Japanese)

  • Joint Extranet Standards to be Implemented Mid-Year
  • February 24, 1998 (TOKYO) — Japan’s Distribution Systems Research Institute has drawn up technical specifications to build extranets to connect enterprises by Internet Protocol (IP).
    The institute is an extra-governmental body under Japan’s Ministry of International Trade and Industry (MITI).

    In December 1996, the institute announced the concept of the Open Business Network (OBN) for building IP-based corporate networks. Intranet specifications based on frame relay have already been determined. About 80,000 connections in Japan are based on these specifications at present, according to the institute.

    The new OBN specifications extend the existing intranet standards to enable extranet construction. Four value-added network (VAN) providers — KDD Corp., Nippon Telegraph and Telephone Corp. (NTT), Intech Co., Ltd. and Japan Telecom Co., Ltd. — plan to begin extranet services based on these specifications in May or June this year.

    To enable extranet services, the VAN provider installs a router that complies with the new OBN extranet specifications at each access point, and sets up a server for managing information about the users who are permitted to access the system.

    Each corporate user signs up with one of the VAN providers. To implement an extranet, the end users simply connect by IP to any of the four VAN providers’ access points.

    In contrast to the usual method of data communications over the Internet, whereby information is routed through a number of servers, data in an extranet built to OBN specifications travels only within the closed network managed by the four VAN providers. This guarantees security, according to the institute.

    Users can connect to an access point in the usual way of connecting to the Internet, by dial-up IP connection over an analog line. However, since companies will want to use an extranet for transferring large volumes of work data back and forth, the institute believes that most companies will choose a leased-line service.

    Competition among the four providers means that charges for a leased-line connection will probably undercut ordinary leased-line services. “A 64kbps leased-line service could cost around 30,000 yen (US$250) per month by next year,” said Hisao Furukawa, assistant general manager of the Open Business Network Information Center of the Distribution Systems Research Institute.

    Furukawa said that major distributors, such as the supermarket Daiei Inc. and Ito Yokado Co., Ltd., are already getting ready to deploy extranets as corporate ordering systems, based on the new OBN specifications.

    In the long term, the institute plans to further extend the OBN specifications for voice and fax transmission, and may implement these technologies as early as next year.

    (BizTech News Dept.)

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