AFTER THE SECOND day of connecting to broadband by using only mobile broadband services, I hear Irish broadcaster Gerry Ryan babbling a statistic about the number of people in Ireland who connect to the internet only through a mobile data service. In his throwaway comment, Gerry made no mention about quality of service or breadth of coverage. So let me point readers to some absolute truths.
1. Mobile Broadband is Not an Traveling Service. Some people think their high-speed packet services will run at 3G when aboard Irish Rail, Aircoach, or in their executive transport Mercedes. That is not what "mobile" broadband means. Although I can see a 3G icon for much of the time I spend commuting between Cashel in Tipperary to Dublin on the Liffey, that little 3G quickly becomes the letter E (for EDGE) for long miles. If I lived in townlands served by EDGE, my 3G SIM would deliver only dial-up speeds.
2. No Political Will for Either Fibre at Kerbs or 3G Masts. You need a national network of fibre serving homes or an overlapping network of 3G masts to provide proper broadband for the masses. In Ireland, the political will does not exists to impose that kind of infrastructral standard on new estates or in broadband blackspots.
3. Maps of Broadband Borrow from the Weatherman. When the weatherman says "scattered clouds" it means approximately 45% of the sky is cloudy. When the Irish Minister of Communications waves his hand over an area of broadband coverage, he means to indicate scattered, not compehensive, broadband services exist under that promising green space. In my experience, no more than 45% of a mapped sector claiming to be covered by mobile broadband is actually served by a 3G signal.
At the end of the day, I really like packet data services. For years, I criss-crossed Ireland while using Nokia Communicators to dial for data. I dropped thousands of connections through the years. In comparison, the mobile broadband connectivity now uploading this blog post is much more intelligent, less power-intensive and kinder to my pocket money. I have cut my data fees by more than €140 a month and I have increased by data usage by more than two gigabytes every month. But by no measure should my experience be equated to a wifi or wired broadband service.
Sent as mail-to-blog using O2-Irleand 3G service on my Nokia E90 while riding on Aircoach through the Province of Munster, Ireland.