It was several years ago — eight, to be precise — that I first mused about Internet access “dripping from the air like mist” or some other awkwardly poetic metaphor in the now-deceased eBusiness Journal. Heady days, huh?
The Ubiquitous Network (you can actually hear people pronounce the capitals) was much in evidence on the agenda at the recent Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. MWC seemed to be about one thing — mobile broadband — and the fascinating applications it will enable, the boost to quality of life it will provide in developing countries, the ultra-cool devices we’ll be using. Mobile broadband is the cornerstone of the ubiquitous network.
There’s more to it than simply the geographic coverage. Consistency of experience, transparent billing and seamlessness all enter the equation.
Please, bring on the ubiquity.
My Barcelona experience surely wasn’t testimony to ubiquity, even though Europe is a leader in wireless technology. My loaner wireless phone (since my personal CDMA model doesn’t work in Europe) didn’t work at all, then worked sporadically, according to some kind of unrevealed internal logic. Wi-Fi (Europeans pronounce it “whiffy”) access in my hotel room was abysmal, forcing me into the lobby to work in the evenings. (Yeah, I know: Stop whining. You got to go to Barcelona.)
Sol Trujillo, CEO of Telstra, the Australian carrier, outlined the company’s $2-billion investment in broadband infrastructure, blanketing 98 per cent of the country in HSPA access at 7Mbps — faster than most residential wired high-speed access here — targeting 42Mbps by 2010. Not broadband enough? It’s also LTE-ready. That, my friends, is broadband access hanging in the air like fog, or whatever it was I wrote in 2000. We’ll see it a few years down the road.
Not soon enough for me.