There is frighteningly little information about this available on the internet now (in either Japanese or English). I did actually find a small mention of Tokyo Metallic on Wikipedia, but the full story is not there. I only know because I was a nerd that wanted broadband more than anything. If only I'd have saved those damn emails from back then.Drew_Sutton wrote: ↑Thu Jun 06, 2019 5:22 pmI'd love to hear more about this, sounds so fascinating that NTT could both likewise hold the market (country) hostage and yet themselves not get into the PC business like NEC and Matsushita.
So the shortish version is, NTT invested heavily in ISDN in the late 90's. So much that it planned to skip DSL entirely and go straight to fiber (some time later). (Side note: I had a fiber connection in my house in Shibuya 2002). Remember that NTT is a behemoth, government owned company, that has a monopoloy on land lines, and were notoriously assholes in keeping competition out. Up until about a decade or so ago, you had to pay a one time fee to NTT to have a landline. That was about 75,000 yen. You owned it - it was transferable when you moved, even though extortionist. That was obviously phased out totally since nobody gives a shit about landlines anymore. (The precursor to the phase out was paying about 2000 yen added to your phone bill each month in lieu of the contract.) That's all to illustrate what NTT is: an expensive, bureaucratic company.
People started getting wind of cable internet, even though a lot of homes couldn't be wired for it (usually b/c of crusty old landlords... many of whom now drive taxis and will not use the navigation system if their life depends on it). An executive of NTT quits, forms Tokyo metallic, sues NTT (for something akin to non-compete) and miraculously wins. Almost immediately Japan has DSL (this was late 2000 / early 2001 from memory). However, this is kind of late in the game. Up until now, being on the internet cost you money, and at dial-up speeds (64k DSL if you were fancy or 128k if you were really fancy). At 3 yen a minute or so, that adds up after a month, and Japanese are notoriously frugal despite the high cost of everything. The result is a public that has simply not adopted the internet like the west.
Keep in mind, Japanese may have avoided PCs like the plague, but they were a good 2 years ahead of the west in the mobile phone world. Away from home for far longer hours and already paying for calls by the minute make the mobile phone a pretty good investment. Probably about the same time as DSL came, mobile phones had primitive browsing. You could have then surfed all day long for a flat 4,000 yen a month or so, but you've already got a phone, and not a 200,000 yen computer that you don't know how to use.
You can argue that was a long time ago, and to an extent things have gotten better. But the ripple effect is huge. I remember when I first moved to Japan in 1998 and would talk to young people. A lot of them blamed some of bizarre cultural stuff on sakoku (the closing of the country for 250 years during the Tokugawa era).