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Connectivity while travelling is getting worse, not better.

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?

  1. 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.
  2. 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.

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