Picture this: you’re halfway across the globe in a foreign country, climbing up one the best known peaks in the world, in one of the most gorgeous environments you’ve ever seen. When you make it up to the top after a long, sometimes arduous climb, you take in the sight and it’s absolutely breathtaking.
After enjoying it for a few minutes, you pull out your laptop and decide to blog about the whole thing right there, while occasionally taking a peek at a few funny cat videos. Finally, you make your way day down while sending a few Snapchats to your buddies expressing just how #epic the whole thing is. #BestTripEver.
That’s the potential scene now on Mt. Fuji, thanks to the Japanese government’s plans to activate Wifi hotspots throughout the mountain. Starting Friday, climbers will be given 72 hours of free Internet access when they begin their trek up the mountain. It’s a bid to increase tourism by adding a 21st century amenity that has quickly gone from being a nice plus in some settings, to a must-have in most places — indoors or outdoors.
Every year, nearly 50,000 foreign tourists travel to Japan to climb Mt. Fuji. Needless to say, that’s a lot of people with disposable income who are presumably used to having almost constant Internet access. They will undoubtedly be taking advantage of the ability to bring their laptops and tablets with them and have a slice of the 21st century with them while immersed in an almost totally remote region.
It’s certainly not the only remote area with Wifi access. Mt. Everest has had Wifi since 2010 at the last base camp before climbers head out for the summit. Visitors to Antarctica can get Wifi for a few hours a day via satellites.
It begs the question though: Is it really necessary to give people Wifi access in places like this? Most people have pretty robust data plans for their smartphones and other devices, and as long as people are getting a signal, they’re connected to the web just fine. It seems like it would be much more useful and cost efficient to just increase 4G coverage to these places. And there are really good safety arguments for wanting to make sure climbers have some ability to contact the outside world.
Mt. Fuji’s Wifi is only being provided during the summer months anyway. It remains to be seen how well-maintained these hotspots are, and for how many years. Perhaps by then we’ll have found a way that to get mobile coverage to those regions anyway.
And to be fair, there’s no denying the view: