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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Mobile Usage Statistics In A Snazzy Infographic

Thanks to those folks at www.onlineitdegree.com a graphic demonstrating what those in the know already know: that Americans did want to send text messages after all, even if it took them a little longer to catch up with The Old World. To think of the folly of all that wasted discussion years ago as to whether American culture was different…

The best part about this infographic, is that it is only the tip of the iceberg!

Smartphone ownership in the UK and USA is running at around 20% of the population as of 2010. In contrast, web access is at around 80% of the population.

The period of big growth, when the time will be ripe to grow really big new consumer apps, new brands or services a la Facebook growth on the web since 2007 (when it went open, instead of just colleges) hasn’t even started yet. The next 3 years is going to be VERY exciting and I personally have been waiting literally a decade for it!

As an aside, I must confess that the Apple App download stat (99.4% of all app downloads) looks suspicious though… both Android and Symbian have considerable download numbers; and I’m unconvinced that last stat is correct.

Graphics by Riley Cran

Mobile Internet tipping point yet to arrive … but it’s close

So for the last 2 years I’ve been saying that the end of 2009 will be the Mobile Internet’s real growth spurt; that is when we will see a growth and hype somewhat akin to the hey-day of “The internet is going to change the world hype”.

Of course we all know now that the internet IS changing the word, but some of the claims at the time were a little misguided.

However, I stand by my end-of-2009 date because to kick-start the mobile internet it will require that EVERYONE has bundled inclusive data on their tariff – EVERY tariff. Doest matter which tariff; EVERY tariff.

To truly kick-off, it will also have to happen over large expanses of the developed world (e.g. the U.S. and the whole of Europe) and ultimately for many service to work (which are, afterall, global services such as Rummble) then data roaming is going to have to be bundled too.  Thats still a little way off, and perhaps why even end of 2009 might be slightly eager on my part; but, I’m an optomist. I already get 100mb globally of bundled data with my Blackberry – so this stuff is possible.

Anyway, the reason that triggered this post was Vodafone’s announcement that it’s bundling unlimted (well, 500mb) data as part of ALL its tarrifs. Three cheers for Vodafone (there’s something I never thought I’d write). Seriously, its a major step forward and one that is long overdue but extremely welcome.

Well done Vodafone; brownie points from me.   Lastly, the UKs alleged most visited mobile sites (on Vodafone handsets) make for interesting reading:

Top 10 mobile internet sites on VMI (ranked by most visited first)

  1. Facebook
  2. Google
  3. BBC
  4. MSN
  5. Bebo
  6. Sony Ericsson
  7. Yahoo
  8. MySpace
  9. Windows live Hotmail
  10. YouTube

Facebook above the Beeb?  What is the world coming too…

More Mobile Network Operator Mobile Data Woes

I posted this on MomoLondon today in an effort to understand how any MNO can roll out such a policy and think it is sane / sensible / will work / will grow their data business …

Can anyone explain to me why if I access the internet on my Blackberry one way (e.g. via O2 actives homepage) I get charged, but if I access the mobile internet another way (via “Blackberry bookmarks”) I don’t ?!  Even if accessing the same webpage – e.g. Google.
Another stunning example of wholly opaque pricing and usability from the MNO’s.
Momo Crackberry users, be warned. I have received £600 bill for data for one month, because I apparently accessed data via the wrong APN.
Apparently one pay’s for data via “mobile.o2.co.uk” but not  via “blackberry.net”.  Frankly, this is a joke.  I dont remember being quoted “100 mb of inclusive data provided you use the correct APN”. 
To be fair to O2 they have reimbursed me for the confusion, provided going forward I make sure I use the right APN; and I commend them for making the right decision on this.
There may be a good technical or other reason, why it is like this; but that is not the point.  Don’t give inclusive (albeit capped) data packages, but then apply a string of confusing criteria to the deal. Data is data. Sorry, but I dont care about the complexities of an MNO’s network or international roaming deals.  I am paying for an inclusive, international 100mb of data for email and browsing. That is what I expect to receive, without strings attached.