In the early nineties when I was a rookie sales rep selling software practically the only way to communicate with our head office across the Atlantic in Toronto was to pick up the phone after 2pm and call them. Today, with the ubiquity of the Internet, communication is much easier. We have other instant options open to us like email, chat, Skype and social networks making communication much easier. Virtual communication is a breeze. Or so I thought before I embarked on my recent transatlantic trip. What I forgot to factor off course was reliable Internet connectivity.
Here in Vancouver I take this for granted: every coffee shop has access, I have a wireless connection in the office and at home – its simply not something I give too much thought to and I expected the same to be the case in Europe. Not so. My plans for uninterrupted connectivity were thwarted more than once.
I am not sure what its like for visitors coming to North America but as a business tourist in Europe reliable connectivity was a challenge. I should make it clear that if I was a “traditional” traveler, staying in hotels, my experience would have been different but that was not the case.
First stop on arrival – the Vodaphone Shop where I was pleased to learn that with the aid of a dongle I would soon be wired (as long as I had a credit card and a permanent UK address for the credit check which being Canadian I didn’t). Nice Vodafone guy advises me to go to 3. Hiho, hiho its off to 3 I go. I do indeed have more luck there and walk out with dongle in hand and 3Gb connection for a small outlay (and a very reasonable one at that) – I am well pleased. Soon I am connected, via a very slow 2 bar connection but I am in no position to complain.
Next stop on the trip, I try to connect. I am in the centre of Scotland, one of the most populace areas in Europe surely a reliable signal isn’t too much to expect. 3 fails me and its off to the Internet cafe pound coins clutched in hand but its shut. When I do finally get online at my folks place the connection reminds me of the days of dial up surely it can only get better in Spain….
Fast forward to Catalonia and indeed the 3 dongle shows four bars despite the fact I am in the middle of nowhere (more than I ever had in Scotland). I try to connect via the 3 partner but get a warning message that it might cost up to a pound and 25p per Mb for partner roaming which sounds reasonable. I click okay and get taken to the 3 site which tells me my credit card is not on file and that I should have provided this up to a week before leaving the UK.
I close my laptop and give up. Time perhaps to wean myself off of social media at least for a few days and take a well earned break. Thanks 3 for the vacation and to all of you who missed my blog posts or Twitter updates, I am back and what is more I have speedy wireless Internet connection (which I will never take for granted again) and intend to make up for lost time!