When I got my first laptop in 1993 it was an immensely liberating experience. A Compaq 386sx machine, running Windows for Workgroups, it enabled me to be productive literally anywhere. With a synchronized copy of my inbox on the hard disk, I would plow through hundreds of emails while on planes, in airports, at conferences. And periodically, I’d connect to the network (56k dial-up!) and send all that good stuff.
Getting work done while mobile has become a much tougher proposition in the last 12 months. It should be easier, but it’s not. Why?
- Network connectivity is lumpy. In some places it’s fabulous. 50% of the time it’s adequate. Increasingly, because of port blocking and underprovisioning, it’s just terrible. The number of places that I cannot connect to my office VPN continues to grow, and as a result, my productivity continues to shrink.
- People don’t send attachments anymore. They send links instead. The presumption is that we have ubiquitous always on connectivity, not lumpy connectivity. What that means is that anytime I’m offline I can’t respond to mail where the meat of the mail is a link.
Access providers must provide adequate service at an affordable price. Affordable to me means that I’m willing to spend $8 to $10 per day for network access when I’m travelling. At the moment it’s either free, or it’s $8 to $10 per location (except when you run into a network like Boingo with roaming hotspots).
I find it shocking that 15 years after my first laptop I’m pining for those simple old days.