I’m actually in Europe these days – you may have noticed that I’ve been typing with an accent. I’m fortunate in that I have a job that I can do almost entirely online – and occasionally I like to test that theory. Unfortunately, getting online has not been as easy as I anticipated.
My unintended time off the grid started when the apartment we rented in Rome was not connected – despite having advertised broadband access. But once you’re there you’re kind of captive. But all was not lost I happened to notice free community wifi signs in the Piazza.
Well I’m not quite sure what happened there. I could see the network from my computer – but could not connect. Or rather I could connect but not get online. The day after we arrived, they actually took down the sign. But the funny thing was that those signs were all over town and I wasn’t successfully connected once – not from my phone, ipad or computer!
One note for anyone who has hotspots for tourists in their town – multilingual login pages would be helpful if you get/want International visitors. Also if you want o make sure tourists are informed and use web sites for more info – it makes sense to make sure they have some free, public access in central locations.
I did find that some restaurants had wifi – but few advertised it, all of the networks were password protested and not all networks were created equal. Eventually we found an Irish pub with a decent connection. But even travelling with in-laws from Dublin you only want to spend so much time in the Irish Pub in Rome.
Our next pitstop was France. We whisked through Paris pretty quickly. Issy-les-Moulineaux, France has made the Intelligent Community Forum Top Seven for several years – but the train doesn’t stop there. I tried periodically to find an open network in Paris – but no luck. (In fairness we were in Paris for about 5 hours so the problem may have been me.)
Next stop London – via chunnel. I was a little surprised that there was no wifi on the train – it’s very much a commuter option. But I was delighted to see that the station (St Pancras) where we landed had free wifi advertised and available. Also wifi available at our rental apartment, as advertised and free wifi signs in pubs across the city. I don’t know how much of the wifi availability was around a year ago and how much they are ramping up for the Olympics next year – but London is a good place to get online.
Final stop Dublin – again via train and boat. There was wifi available on the train for a modest fee; same with the boat. Part of the ease of connecting in Dublin is that it’s a home away from home so I know where to go – but there is connectivity in the libraries and in several of the pubs. It is cheaper here. We reinstated our 8 Mbps connection at the house here for €6 per month – that’s about $10.
One of the nice things about traveling is that you get to see what’s normal in other places. Broadband is normal – but community access is not created equal. The US appears to offer better options than Rome – but I wouldn’t say we’re ahead of Dublin or London. The other things here is the advanced use of cell phone (or mobile) but I thought I might write about that another time.