Expensive internet connectivity is Starbucks’ win

£3 a Mb adds up quickly on a smartphone
£3 a Mb adds up quickly on a smartphone

I travel to New York several times a year, and I’ve just returned from another visit. I usually go for 3-4 days but this time I was there for over a week.

I love New York, it’s energy, its people and well, there are a thousand other things too.

I often work from home, and I travel to other places too, so I’m used to working outside a typical office environment. However during this trip I struggled with one particular aspect – Internet connectivity. At Endava, we have a mobile contract with Vodafone, and when abroad, the mobile internet costs are surreal.

It costs around £3 per Mb when roaming on my phone. I had to use it on a couple of occasions, mainly for maps. But having a modern smartphone means that as soon as you enable mobile data, every other app treats internet connectivity like gasping for air, and within seconds I’m receiving updates to Facebook, LinkedIn, Snapchat, Twitter, Google plus, work and personal email accounts. Fast internet access is great, but it meant I hit my monthly roaming allowance cap within a few minutes.

New York doesn’t have nearly as many free wi-fi spots either. I know that London has more because when I take the kids out with their iPod touches, they manage to sniff out free wi-fi hotspots almost anywhere. In New York, only Starbucks seemed to consistently have free wi-fi.

My hotel had free wi-fi in the lobby area. In-room-wi-fi cost a staggering $25 per day. I refuse to pay that kind of price, even if work would cover it (my simple moral rule with expenses is “If I wouldn’t pay for it out of my pocket, I wouldn’t expect work to pay for it either”) and judging by how busy the dark lobby was with iPad screens (the dark hotel entrance hall looked like a swarm of fireflies), the other guests didn’t want to spend that kind of money either.

I’m aware that some networks, I think o2, offer fixed roaming costs for a fixed daily cost, but you have to commit to the daily amount and notify o2 before you travel.

With the amount of cloud services and social networks, our dependency on the internet keeps increasing . We need to stay connected, and mobile operators are taking advantage of this. No wonder Starbuck are so busy.

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