Always On? True Ubiquitous Connectivity Is 10 Years Away

How can it be that I’m in the central London, with:

  • A WIFI equipped laptop
  • Vodafone 3G SIM in my laptop
  • O2 3G mobile broadband dongle
  • Yet I’ve spent the last HOUR trying to get online reliably?

In short, The Cloud wifi connectivity in the Pret I’m sitting seems to have a problem and is unreliable. Amongst other things it doesn’t seem to want to allow Tweetdeck to connect to the Twitter API. Pages are slow.

The Vodafone SIM does connect to the network; but its’ intermittent. Pages will suddenly stop loading and I lose connectivity.

The O2 3G dongle won’t work at all or even see the O2 network. It was working fine yesterday.

You’re Just Jinxed

So I hear you cry, you’re just unlucky, in a bad cell with a coincidently bad Wifi zone. Perhaps. I suspect however that many people experience this on a day to day basis when travelling around. My RIM Blackberry is actually the most reliable connectivity device I have (but that is largely because I am connected using 2G and EDGE on O2, using 3G switches me to the work of intermittent reliability and it negotiating up and down from GPRS to 3G).

More often than not there are issues with WIFI where I am, or with my mobile connectivity. For mission critical applications, or a world where everything I own is in the cloud, that is a problem.

I recognise that connectivity costs. In all then, I’m pay nearly £150 a month across 3 network providers to try and ensure I’m connect, yet still I find myself having problems due to software, network coverage or both.

The Mobile Revolution Is Yet To Arrive

Only ~20% of the UK and US population have a smart phone today. This will rapidly increase over the next 2-3 years to the 80% penetration which represents web and broadband connectivity today.

In 2009, The Nielsen Company reported that of the 80% of Americans now have a computer in their home 92% had internet access; this has increased further in the last 3 years.

The devices continue to consume more data, more multi-media. Even with 4G and LTE on the horizon, this is going to be a problem.

Have you hung out in San Francisco recently? Or tried to download something while at SXSW in Austin Texas, or in the middle of Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. It’s a pain and it is slow.

Reliable connectivity and bandwidth for mobile devices (including laptops) continues to be the elephant in the living room. Unless there is some heavenly technology due to be rolled out which I’m not aware of, expect this situation to get worse before it gets better.

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