Our Corporate Communications staff spend time getting to know Sumitomo Corporation's different business sites around the world, reporting on how the people at those sites work. We will keep you up to date with the world of Sumitomo Corporation, which extends to every corner of the globe.
Production Team, Corporate Communications Department
After joining the Group in 2002, the writer worked in administration and new business development in the multichannel broadcasting domain, which now comes under the Jupiter Telecommunications Group. In 2008, she was moved to the Corporate Communications Department for training. After working for three years in mass media relations for the Media, Network & Lifestyle Retail Business Unit as well as in website development and marketing publications, she was transferred to Jupiter Shop Channel, where her communications training is expected to bear fruit. She bought the coat she is wearing in the photograph on the Shop Channel (before receiving notice of her transfer).
Mongolia and the mobile phone
Situated in northeast Asia, bordered by Russia to the north and China to the south, Mongolia is a landlocked country. In the early 1990s, it transformed itself from a socialist stronghold into a free market democracy. Mostly desert and grassland, this vast nation is about four times the size of Japan and has a population of around 2.7 million people, or one fiftieth of that of Japan. Nearly half of the population is concentrated in the capital city of Ulaanbaatar. While mobile phone penetration is roughly 70%, landline phones are not widely used. Mobile phones have reportedly become a normal part of life in Mongolia, even among traditional nomadic peoples.
MobiCom Corporation was established as Mongolia’s first mobile phone operator in 1995 by three companies: Sumitomo Corporation, KDDI, and a Mongolian company by the name of NEWCOM LLC. In recent years, competition in the Mongolian mobile phone market has intensified to ever greater degrees with the increase of new entrants. MobiCom, however, has maintained its position as the country’s largest operator and its lion’s share of the market by adopting new overseas technologies ahead of its competitors and diversifying its business.
Inside the ger, we watched a live sumo broadcast, together cheering on Yokozuna Hakuho.
When entering a ger, you are supposed to take off your hat and step in with your right foot first. Once I was inside, it was incredibly warm thanks to stove in the center. The coldness I felt outside dissipated completely. The family served me some slightly salty-tasting tea made from tea leaves, with milk and butter. The warm tea soothed my stomach, which was feeling a little queasy after too much Mongolian vodka the night before, downed with cries of “Togtooy!” (“Cheers!”)
Outside the ger, there was a solar power generator and a parabolic antenna. Inside this traditional residence, I saw a brand new liquid crystal display TV. The January Sumo Tournament in Japan happened to be on at the time, and the last match of the day was about to start. We all cheered on Yokozuna Hakuho and there were good feelings all round as he added to his record of consecutive wins. In that moment, I felt a connection with my hosts that transcended the language barrier.
This nomadic man braved chilly minus 30 degree weather to chat on his mobile phone.
Then I looked around again and spotted a mobile phone! It was a MobiCom phone, of course. Just then, the phone rang, but the family member who answered it quickly ended the call and took the handset outside. They told me that the signal was unstable in this suburban area, so they kept the phone in a certain spot inside the ger but made calls from a particular corner of their stable. Standing in front of the stable wearing no hat or gloves, the man chatted on the phone for more than 10 minutes. My camera crew and I followed him out to take a picture of him talking on the phone, but although we took all possible measures to protect ourselves against the cold, we froze to the bone.
The tips of my eyelashes and hair froze.
Even after he finished the phone conversation, the man continued to work outside, watering and milking his livestock. My crew and I continued to take his picture, all the while freezing, but the nomadic family didn’t seem bothered by the cold.
After a while, my vision became blurry and I discovered that my eyelashes had frozen! I was wearing a mask to protect my nose and mouth from the cold, but the moisture in my breath got caught in my eyelashes and froze.
Cold and beautiful sunset over the great plain. See the video on YouTube.
The sun was about to set when I thought I couldn’t stand the cold a minute longer. On the far horizon, where the vast white plain met the sky, the sun glowing as it went down. The sky turned from blue to red to purple until it finally became dark. I would like to say I almost forgot about the cold at the sight of such a beautiful sunset, but in truth I was still too frozen to block it out. Despite my heat-producing down, layers of sweaters, thermal underwear and disposable body warmers, I was chilled to the bone. Even so, the mysterious beauty of the sunset was impressive.
Two months after I returned home from Mongolia, the Great East Japan Earthquake happened. For Mongolians who were worried about the events in Japan, MobiCom offered its users free calls to Japan for three days following the earthquake, and other telecommunications carriers in the country followed MobiCom’s suit. The Mongolian government responded by dispatching its first ever overseas rescue mission to Japan. There was also a campaign to “donate a day’s salary” in Mongolia, which many MobiCom employees joined. I am ashamed to say that I donated a day’s salary only after seeing their example. “Although Ulaanbaatar is cold, it makes the hearts of the people very warm,” joked a Mongolian to me as he sipped local vodka. When I heard that, I never imagined that his words would come back to me two months later and in such circumstances.
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