Climb Mt. Fuji for the Views, Stay for the 4G
Today in international tech news: Mt. Fuji gets 4G coverage; the EU turns its antitrust gaze inward; foreign video game console makers will finally have access to China (so long as games aren’t too objectionable); and India strikes a deal with BlackBerry to monitor devices.
Intrepid hikers and garden-variety Internet addicts now have 4G access on top of Japan’s famous Mt. Fuji.
Japanese telecom NTT DoCoMo has equipped the 12,388-foot summit with high-speed LTE connectivity. The access will run now through August, the height of the tourist season on the mountain.
Fuji has always been among the world’s most wired mountains. It has had cell reception since 1999 and 3G since 2005.
Mt. Rainier in Washington, Mt. Kilimanjaro in Tanzania and lower sections of Mt. Everest also have some sort of wireless coverage.
EU Turns Antitrust Gaze Inward
Having already launched probes into Google and Apple, European Union antitrust authorities confirmed Thursday that they are investigating leading European telecommunications companies for abusing their dominant market positions.
The European Commission, which is the executive branch of the EU, did not specify which companies it was targeting, but German giant Deutsche Telekom said on its website that emails and other data had been seized. Meanwhile, Orange (France) and Telefonica (Spain) were also raided, according to Reuters.
The Commission is concerned that these telecom giants may be prohibiting smaller sites from accessing networks, it said in a statement.
The investigation is likely linked to complaints that Cogent — a Washington-based company that sells Internet access to third parties — filed in Germany and France, a Cogent executive told The New York Times. Major telecoms have been refusing to upgrade congested and difficult-to-access networks, Cogent CEO Dave Schaeffer said, thereby crippling Cogent clients like YouTube and Netflix.
Schaeffer also mentioned Orange-owned Dailymotion — a direct competitor to YouTube. By muddying up access to YouTube, he said, the telecom can nudge consumers toward Dailymotion.
European Commission antitrust investigations are lengthy ordeals — the Google investigation has been going on for more than two years and is nowhere near completion — so don’t expect rulings anytime soon.
Companies that violate EU antitrust law can be fined up to 10 percent of their annual global sales.
[Sources: The New York Times; Reuters]
Foreign Gaming Companies Can Sell in China – Mostly
Foreign gaming companies will be allowed to start selling products on the Chinese mainland, so long as they play by some very specific (and very Chinese) rules.
Chinese authorities said in January that, contrary to reports, they were not considering lifting a ban on video game consoles. Now, however, following a July 3 decision that foreign companies can sell goods in mainland China so long as they register in a new free trade zone in Shanghai, they will be allowed to promote and sell after all.
Gaming companies will face some extra red tape, however: They will have to seek approval from regulators, who will double-check that the games’ content is not too violent or politically sensitive.
Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo have all tried but failed to wiggle their way into China in the past. Officials have discussed lifting China’s ban against game consoles, but had never pulled the trigger.
The Shanghai free trade zone will act as a sort of litmus test for whether or not such free trade policies will be pursued in the future.
[Source: The China Daily]
India to Track BlackBerry Communication
Indian law enforcement agencies will be able to track communication taking place over BlackBerry devices.
Email, email attachments and chats are among the things authorities will have access to, ending a dispute between India and BlackBerry.
The agreement is a way to allow India’s wireless carriers to address their lawful access requirements for consumer messaging systems, a BlackBerry spokesperson said, stressing, however, that the deal does not apply to BlackBerry Enterprise Server.
[Source: Times of India]