| by Flemming Funch|
Sometime last month I was bored and decided to check what my mobile phone actually could do. It is not an expensive phone, but a rather recent one with 3G. Which means it can access the net with a useful bandwidth and it has video and stuff like that. So, it can be a video phone for one thing. But actually I didn't run into anybody I had a chance to try that with. But it can also just play videos. There's a bunch of TV channels, and there are music videos and stuff like that. So I watched some of those, and clicked around a little bit to see what was there. I think I spent an hour doing that. Pretty crummy on a small screen like that, but I thought it was cool that it could do that. Until I got the bill, that is. I had accepted a €4 charge for some categories of videos, all I want, all day, which sounded ok, and I expected to see that on my bill. Plus, I imagined I might be using up my calling minutes. But, no, that hour of poking around in stuff I thought was largely free cost me over 100 euros. The killer was the billing by kilobyte, at a ridiculously high rate. Which means one has to be pretty insane to sit and watch crummy videos at several euros per minute. So, one thing is to have fancy technology. Another is that it might be billed in such a way that it is totally useless. Having a 3G phone essentially gives me nothing.
Sometimes it is the same thing with WiFi accesss points. Recently, when I didn't have my internet connection yet, I drove around and looked for public WiFi access points. And there's one close by, at the Comfort Inn in Ramonville. It is run by Orange, which is my cell phone provider, so in principle, it should be no problem. Except for that it bills at cell phone per-minute rates. Which means it would be around €15 per hour. Might make sense for an emergency, to quickly check my e-mail. But useless if I have to, like, work. Several hundreds euros per day for how how I use a computer. Pretty wacky seeing that anybody with a €30/month DSL connection can make themselves a public access point.