What is one to do with the phone booth? Probably a question that quite a number of incumbent telecommunication operators have asked themselves since the turn of the century.
Mobile phones and laptops connected to the Internet via GPRS or some other fancy technology have slowly but surely put a dent in the utility and usage of the phone booth. In certain places, the actual service they render has dramatically evolved. In the UK they serve as shelters and advertisement. In Switzerland, some of them are equiped with defibrillators.
In China one municipality has plans to turn them into Wi-Fi hotspots. Provided the fixed-line functionality is kept – not everybody has a mobile phone yet – this makes sense: first, not everybody is connected non-stop and hence spots to reconnect to the Internet are welcome, at least until the price of a non-stop connection becomes financially reasonable; second the location of existing phone booths has usually been carefully thought of and match the distribution of population. Now add a quick-charging mechanism (for both mobile phones and laptops) and there might be a second life for the phone booth.
While China’s Premier Wen Jiabao is visiting India, Huawei announced its plans to invest USD 2 billion into India over the next 5 years in the field of research and manufacturing.
Huawei’s strategy makes a lot of sense. First, it consolidates its presence in one of the world’s center of telecommunication R&D. Second, by locating operations in India, it circumvents potential “Buy India” campaigns. Third, it gets even closer the fastest growing telecommunication market in the world.
Both countries already have deeper ties than one may think. The overall amount of deals to be signed during Wen’s visit ranges between USD 16 and 20 billion – close to the total amount of deals signed between India, France, the UK and the US this year. China is already India’s largest trading partner. So, one can only wonder what could come out of a stengthened partnership between India and China once both governments start to align their interests. Maybe then could the 21st century become the Asian century.
It is hard to resist the temptation of peering through the Wiki Leaks sand glass and trying to find something novel about China. So, how wicked are the revelations, if at all? Well, for anybody following Chinese affairs, there isn’t much to bite on:
- local GDP figures are man-made: nothing really new here as official Chinese statistical data, while improving, remain rather un-reliable
- the government ordered the attack on Google: here too there was a widely shared presumption that the greenlight had been given by Beijing
- China’s growing role in Africa: could Beijing really be more transparent as to its intention on the continent?
- a scenario having Seoul taking the lead in case of re-unification between the North and the South: given the thorn in China’s foot that North Korea represents, military strategist would have not been doing their job if they had not considered this alternative
Now, what would be really astounding is to have Wiki Leaks reveal cables sent by Chinese Embassies around the world.