The showdown between China and Google is front page news, but another story is happening nearly half way around the world that could have similar long-reaching effects. The National Telecommunication Regulatory Authority in Egypt has banned international calls made through mobile Internet connections. This includes Voice over Internet Protocol operator Skype, which currently has more than 500 million users worldwide.
The ban in Egypt applies to that nation’s three mobile carriers, including Mobinil, Etisalat Egypt and Vodafone Egypt. It also covers all Internet access or computers via USB and other mobile modems reports Reuters, and the news agency adds that this includes mobile handsets but does not apply to fixed lines.
The reason stated is that Egyptian law requires that international calls must pass through Telecom Egypt’s monopoly of state-controlled, fixed-line network; so this is an issue of monetary control it seems rather than a censorship issue. But this ban is not limited to Egypt either. The United Arab Emirates has also denied a license to Skype or other VoIP operators.
Interestingly, last September India’s security agencies also recommended a ban on VoIP and other international Internet telephony, at least until such times that calls made using the service can be traced. Whether this concern is legitimate is open for debate. Certainly the IP address could be traced, but the question is how quickly, especially if a mobile phone were used in the process.
Both of the aforementioned points, control over networks used and security, could be ones that could certainly derail affordable international calls from mobile handsets. This is something to keep in mind during your international travels. But what it could mean for the individuals is those nations is an issue that we’ll have to continue to watch closely.
3G Mobile TV Delivered to China
Speaking of China, it isn’t all bad news on the high-tech front. While China and Google are at an impasse, other companies are a crossroads to a changing world. This week Envivio announced the launch of four new 3G-based Mobile TV implementations in China. These use the company’s 4Caster C4 encoding system to deliver multi-channel services to mobile handsets across several carriers including China Unicom, Shanghai Mobile, Shanghai Telecom and Xin Huashe. These will provide live TV programming, as well as video on demand TV to subscribers.
“Envivio’s flexible platform for Three Screens services enables operators to quickly deploy a solution that matches their specific service goals,” said Julien Sign?s, President and CEO at Envivio. “It enables them to easily bypass technical challenges and focus on developing compelling TV services that look great and serve to attract and retain subscribers.”
The 4Caster C4 system works across a range of handsets as well, so it can provide services to those with budget 3G devices or take advantage of more powerful smartphones, including the Apple iPhone or Android and Windows Mobile-powered handsets. Viewers can get the content streamed via Wi-Fi or from the 3G networks.
Apple Goes to the Opera
The world’s most popular mobile Web browser has been officially submitted to the Apple App Store this week. Unveiled at the Mobile World Congress 2010 in February, Opera Mini is now looking pretty official and the remaining question is whether Apple will officially approve it. One reason Apple might not is that it would compete directly with Apple’s built-in Safari browser.