Microsoft Corp is buying a 60% stake in Japan's second largest cable operator Titus Communications from US cable company MediaOne Group which is merging with telco AT&T.

Microsoft claimed the deal would speed up the roll-out of broadband networks in Japan. Titus already offers cable telephony and high-speed Internet access to a small but growing market.

Titus claims nine cable franchises with 1.6 million potential subscribers. The company was among 30 Japanese cablers that recently signed up with Sega Enterprises to develop high-speed Internet connections for Sega's Dreamcast games console (Screendaily, February 2).

Microsoft is also in the process of acquiring MediaOne's stake in UK cable operator Telewest, a deal which is being probed by the European Commission on competition grounds.