Sony is teaming up with Toyota Motor Corp and Tokyo-based private railway Tokyu Corp in a joint venture to provide broadband Internet services via cable TV.

The venture, called AII Kikaku, will start operations as a planning company in early April with each of the partners providing an equal one-third share of the capital. Sony and Toyota have already linked with Internet service provider (ISP) Internet Initiative Japan (IIJ) to launch a data transmission company targeting corporate clients.

By jointly providing broadband Internet connections via cable networks, the three partners intend to counter moves by the NTT Group to dominate the Internet services business in Japan. They are also reportedly considering a possible alliance with KDDI, an ISP started by telecoms DDI and KDD and mobile communications giant IDO.

AII Kikaku intends to move from planning to operations in October and, after conducting trials, start commercial services in January of next year. Both Toyota and Tokyu currently have cable companies in their corporate groups that are potential customers of AII; but they also plan to offer AII's fee collection and customer support services to non-group cable operators throughout Japan.

Sony intends to use AII to provide not only its own extensive cable business know-how, but a range of content, including films, music and games.