I do wonder where the SMH finds the people that write the oft-random pieces that appear in their National Times section.
There was one effort, published yesterday, that really left me wondering just what qualifications are required for one to write some words passing judgment on the world around them and then have those words published on a national scale by one of the tree major media companies.
“My wife and I are overseas, trying to navigate our way through the streets of London,” this particular one began.
“But we haven’t dared to use Google maps on our iPhones,” it continued.
“Oh? Why is that?” I pondered.
The reasoning, according to this piece, is that “[t]he pricing practices that govern mobile phone voice and data charges during overseas travel are unprecedented in the massive penalty they apply to travellers”.
What follows is lengthy rant about how the phone companies are in cahoots to just rort their customers who travel internationally as best they can and it is about time the government came in and just stopped this because it is wrong and bad and the world is too hard.
It’s a spectacular display of ignorance about what is available when it comes to access data on mobile devices whilst travelling overseas.
For example, our traveller doesn’t even consider the possibility of buying a local, pre-paid SIM for his device in his travel destination. For example, it took me about 15 minutes in an O2 store to get one last time I was in London, and I believe that Vodafone also makes it ridiculously simple to purchase one that provides for quite cheap data rates for England and cheap (by comparison to Telstra, Optus, etc) rates when roaming from England into continental Europe.
Even if your phone is locked to your Australian provider (do they even still do that?) and a local SIM from another country won’t work in it, you still have options.
Free Wi-Fi is available
pretty much everywhere. It’s in every single McDonald’s on the planet, every other coffee shop, plenty of public buildings (libraries, museums and the like) and, unlike their Australian counterparts, many hotels.
With a bit of planning, you can map out your trip and load all the data you’ll need while you’re on the Wi-Fi, thus allowing you to still use your device without an active data connection racking up roaming charges.
Even if you have a moral position of never stepping foot in a McDonald’s – even to leech their Wi-Fi – and don’t like coffee shops there are still options you can take advantage of that don’t result in your paying $15,000 per gigabyte.
Telstra, and I assume the others as well, offer a number of international roaming data packs that you can add to either your pre or post-paid service before you travel in order to not incur massive roaming charges.
Our author talks of a friend who “recently returned home to find a bill of more than $7000 waiting for him” and how “if you were travelling and you used your 3G-enabled laptop computer to download a two-gigabyte movie your ticket would be a staggering $30,000”.
Just outrageous, right?
A data pack to cover the 500-odd megabytes of data that a $7000 bill would have been, costs $1050 and presents quite a saving unless you consider the time it would take you to research and purchase the data pack to be worth more than $6000.
Secondly, who the fuck downloads 2 gigabyte movies over 3G?
The whole premise of this article is just idiotic.
Using Telstra’s data usage estimator tool, I calculated that if I kept up my usual mobile data usage for a three week holiday, I would go through one gigabyte of data. But because I’m not the author of a National Times op-ed, this exercise would cost me $1800 rather than $15,000.
So where do the SMH find their op-ed writers on such matters? Well, Alan Finkel, Chancellor of Monash University and president of the Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering.
I really think the title of his article should have been “Old Man Yells at Cloud” with, naturally, this image: