Two Internet service providers in Japan and the Netherlands are to link their services, as the first step towards creating "the world's largest seamless network", they claimed.
By July, Dutch EUnet International and Japan's Asia Internet Holding (AIH) will provide a direct connection between their services. They will then be able to make use of a US link operated by Japan's largest ISP, Internet Initiative Japan, which owns a 17 per cent stake in AIH. EUnet also claims to have fast, high quality connections to the US.
Currently, AIH's offering covers Japan and seven other Asian countries, while EUnet serves all of Europe, most of the Asian republics of the former Soviet Union and part of north Africa, with access points in 300 cities. The two companies' access points will be made available to each others' users next year and the partners will also jointly develop private Intranet systems for multinational corporations.
Analysts believe this is likely to be the start of a race for larger ISPs to create cross-border alliances, in order to fend off competition from telcos with their international infrastructures. Already, the BT-MCI Concert alliance, Japan's leading carrier NTT, AT&T in the US and some European telcos are launching or planning multinational Internet services, mainly targeted at large companies.
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