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The other day I got my new iPhone 4S. Since its short swim this summer, the old one has been a bit erratic now and then. Now it is no longer a phone, so much is clear, as my phone number has been taken over by its successor. I can’t use it for texting. But what about all the other functions? The question is: Does it have a chance of a second life, as a pensioner, indoors or within the range of WiFi coverage? I can still use it to search the internet, to play Angry birds and as a remote for the TV. After having set time and date manually, I can update the apps. Now the calendar works too. And I can listen to music, downloaded or streaming. I can access Facebook and check e-mail. As far as I can see, what we have got here is a fully functional iPod Touch.

But then again, why would I use it? I have got all those functions in my new iPhone, too.

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Mobile broadband promises the freedom to reach the internet wherever you are. You are no longer stuck in places with fixed network access, like home, workplace and the privileged “hot spots” of the city. When driving, cycling, walking, trekking, and spending time in remote places, mobile broadband always gives you full access to your global connections, on your laptop or mobile. Work wherever you want. But wait, really… apart from the fact that you should perhaps be on holiday, avoiding work rather than cherishing it, is this a fairy tale or a true story?

This spring I made an exception from my principle of not making deals over the telephone and got my Glocalnet dongle together with an 18 months deal including free traffic at night and during weekends. 89 sek (8 €) a month. A bargain, I thought, and well adapted to my leisure habits. The mobile broadband coverage of my preferred holiday environment in the Bjäre area of north east Scania should be alright. [1] I was looking forward to some leisure time surfing on rainy Sundays in our summer house.

However,  indoors the connection speed (download) appeared to be around 5-7 kbps (kilobit per second), far from the boasted (yet formally correct) “up to 6 Mbps”. I got a connection speed even slower than with my first telephone modem in the early 90ies, which was 14.4 kbps. And the internet in those days was adapted to slow modems.

Coverage Bjäre summer 2009

Coverage Bjäre summer 2009, inside car (or house)

Glocalnet is owned by Telenor Sverige AB, and therefore using Telenor’s network. Trying to solve the mystery, I went to the coverage map, and found an explanation: I was located in “the Bermuda triangle” of mobile communication, in a black hole covering the central part of Bjäre.

Even more funny was to discover that I could find good connections not far from our house, in places like the wildlife sanctuary or the beach. However, it would be adventurous to make generalizations from those findings.

The moral of the story is that you can probably find a lack of mobile broadband whenever you really need it – and an abundance where you have already got it through WiFi or fixed connections. Or in those places where full internet connection is exactly what you do not need.

Another moral is that these specific observations – rather than a good story –  may already  be history.  Bjäre is definitely one of those districts where mobile internet providers normally do not hesitate to make expansions. And I have not been there for several weeks. [2]

dongle

1. It should be noted that Bjäre is not a remote and sparsely populated countryside.  Located close to the Öresund region it is rather a corner of Scania where businesses (like Lindab, Peab, Nolato and others) are blooming and the prices of holiday accommodation are ever rising.

2. However, the absence of a central empty area in today’s coverage maps of Bjäre does not fully convince me!

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