Thursday, June 19, 2008

Somehow this week seems to mark a change in what is possible. As if the time spent looking at wifi in Exeter has reached a new stage. Not because much has happened in Exeter but just because things change around us anyway. Let us face it, Exeter City Council still has a policy not to host anything Flash on the official website or allow staff to access Flash on screens at work. So the possible connection of wifi and media during festivals is still a bit obscure.

But in the UK, mobile phone companies now support web access and this is becoming better known. Today, Victor Keegan writes about his own experience and he seems happy enough to pay a monthly fee and avoid the crazy charges of all the cafes and hotels who have failed to regard web access as a free offer, like a newspaper. By the way, on a visit to a part of Exeter University thought to have wifi, I noticed that the only person checking email was using a Vodaphone connection. So my impression is that the experiments around Alt-C a few years ago have not made a lot of difference to Exeter but something has happened in the UK.

The most alarming aspect of what Victor Keegan writes is some possible bad news for Life Bytes and other places where web access is sold by the hour to include a device.
Just before dealing with the ridiculous charges for leaving the UK and visiting the continent, Keegan writes-

I was about to become a dongler to avoid having to go to the tourist office in France every day on our holidays to check emails etc at £3 an hour.

Well, is £3 an hour unreasonable for web access? It happens to be the rate charged at Life Bytes, on Sidwell Street opposite the Odeon. Personally I do not see how they could charge much less and continue to exist. Radical rethink may be timely on what internet access resources are about. My own experience on a visit to Koln and Brussels was that one euro for twenty minutes was enough to catch up on email and this was for a full keyboard and large screen. Gmail and Blogger both worked ok. So I did not carry any devices. Downloading photos for editing online might have taken longer and got into the hourly rate as an issue but I decided not to bother.

More on the blog about reading the Guardian.

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