Site: NEC Corporation
4035, Ikebe-Cho, Tsuzuki-Ku
Yokohama, 224, Japan

Date Visited: June 4, 1997

WTEC: N. Helm (report author), K. Bhasin, R. DePaula, C. Mahle



NEC Corporation, established in 1899, currently has over 150,000 employees, and is capitalized at $1.7 billion. NEC was the first company to promote the integration of computing and communications, and now is ranked fourth in world sales in computers, number 5 in communications and number 2 in semiconductors. Only Japanese companies (Toshiba, Hitachi and NEC) rank high in 2 or 3 of these 3 categories.

The WTEC visit included the NEC Yokohama plant, founded in 1969, which has more than 2,500 employees and contains the Space Systems Division of the Radio Operations Unit. The Space Systems operation has nearly 900 employees, sales of $340 million, and provides equipment, systems and services in communications, broadcasting, earth observation, science and engineering satellites. NEC is also working on space station hardware, launch vehicles and ground terminal systems. NEC has been the prime contractor for 44 out of the 72 spacecraft made in Japan.


NEC has extensive development activities ongoing in many areas of satellite communications systems. It is especially involved in various kinds of satellite transponders and equipment. This equipment includes lightweight advanced transponders incorporating MMICs, HMICs, high speed digital GaAs LSI circuits, gate arrays and HEMTs. Table C.3 shows the current laboratory demonstrated levels of performance for discrete amplifier chips, amplifiers, and transmitters for space use, from 1.5 – 43 GHz. NEC is also working in millimeter wave and optical transponders, including a trial model of a 10 Gbps optical transmitter and receiver for ISLs, along with lasers, microwave radars and optical local area networks for the International Space Station.

Table C.3
Levels of Performance for Discrete Amplifier Chips, Amplifiers, And Transmitters for Space Use




1.5 GHz


Pout=8 W to 16 W, Efficiency=60% min.


Pout=60 W, Efficiency=40% min. (including EPC), Mass=1,320 g nom.

2.3 GHz


Pout=20 W, Efficiency=60% min.


Pout=120 W, Efficiency=53% min., Mass=4.5k g max



Pout=10 W, Efficiency=60% min.


Pout=50 W, Efficiency=42% nom. (including EPC), Mass=1,600 g nom.

8 GHz


Pout=6 W, Efficiency=45% nom.



Pout=4 W, Efficiency=40% nom.

12 GHz


Pout=16 W, Efficiency=29% nom. (including EPC), Mass=1,750 g nom.



Pout=170 W, Efficiency=66% nom.



Pout=1 W, Efficiency=25% nom.

20 GHz


Pout=3 W, Efficiency=14% nom.



Pout=230 W, Efficiency=55% nom.

43 GHz


Pout=35 W, Efficiency=41% nom.

NEC is leading the world in the development of earth stations for global systems such as INTELSAT, and has continuing development activities in all sizes of communications ground terminals including VSATs. In addition, NEC is fostering the development of a large line of multimedia products, including mobile communications terminals, DBS receivers, HDTV equipment, video games, VCRs and a host of computing components.


As a prime contractor, NEC has a full array of test facilities including a satellite integration building with clean rooms, vibration tables, thermal vacuum chambers and a shielded room. Also, it has excellent antenna test facilities with anechoic chambers and near and far field test ranges.


While NEC has been the major space prime contractor in Japan, the current fiscal restraints imposed by the government are resulting in fewer new satellites, especially scientific satellites. In addition, NEC is seeing a larger share of the government's developments in communications satellite systems, remote sensing systems, and satellite ground stations. Sub-systems are shared with such companies as MELCO, Toshiba and Fujitsu. Thus, NEC must look to non-Japanese spacecraft vendors for outlets for the excellent array of space hardware and software that is being developed. But competition is hard, and U.S. vendors, especially the new LEO spacecraft primes, are developing more of their systems and sub-systems within their corporate teams, and with a number of new suppliers of space systems from China, Korea, and India. Also, although the number of combined new starts in the U.S. scientific and defense communities is down from the high levels in the early 1990s, they are still sufficient to give American vendors additional opportunities to maintain their lead in spacecraft bus technologies.


NEC is an extremely well organized company with highly trained and dedicated personnel. Its facilities are modern and the combination of good talent and resources results in an array of products and services that is very competitive. In areas such as large ground terminals, NEC has captured the market. In spacecraft payload areas, such as transponder systems, circuits, and devices, NEC is producing world class equipment. NEC is positioning itself to be the supplier of future large capacity, intelligent satellites by developing onboard processors and high frequency microwave and laser systems for the next generation of satellites.

Published: December 1998; WTEC Hyper-Librarian