As I have just mentioned in my last blog entry, the last few days I have been embarked on my latest business trip, coinciding with a wonderful visit all around to Helsinki, Finland, where my good friends from IBM Finland invited me over to participate on the IBM CIO Forum event, with the rather innovative initiative of “Redefining Work 925“, and a couple of other events, and where, after being there for about three days, I think I may have just experienced the future… The future of a fully networked and interconnected world… Our world. And what it would look like altogether. And, yes, it’s much more exciting and brighter than whatever I could have ever imagined!
As a road / air warrior, I get to travel a fair bit and visit not just mainland Spain, but a bunch of other countries in Europe, and North America. I have yet to visit South America, continental Africa and Asia, although I know it will all come together eventually at some point, but if there is anything that Helsinki, Finland, has shown me in the last couple of days is that you can have more than a decent Internet connection, and for free!!, while you are carrying on with your work and personal life helping it become ever so much more engaged, participative and interconnected with the Social Web available out there!
In another blog post I will detail some of the highlights from my visit to Helsinki, what I learned and what plenty of other folks are doing out there in the area of Social Computing, but for now I just couldn’t help thinking about putting together this short blog entry to explain why my expectations on connecting to the Internet, for work, or personal stuff, will never be the same again after this business trip. And here is why…
That’s a snapshot of the free wi-fi connection at the hotel where I stayed those days in Helsinki. And this is the one from the free wi-fi connection at the Helsinki airport, which is even much more remarkable:
For a good number of years I have always been complaining (Yes, I guess it’s complaining, because that’s probably what I have been doing all along…) about how poor the quality of wi-fi and Ethernet connections are in a good number of countries I have visited (US, Canada, Spain, France, UK, Germany, Ireland, Belgium, Portugal, Mexico, Netherlands, Hungary, Switzerland, etc. etc.) and on top of that how expensive it is for the quality of service that we get, even worse here in Spain, where the prices for ADSL, for instance, are some of the most expensive in Europe with the lowest bandwidth! And not just at hotels, conference venues, Internet kiosks, regular 3G connectivity, etc. etc., but also at our own homes! I was reaching the point of believing that we would have to get used to living through such poor quality standards of service with no remedy, waiting for our ISP providers to keep making big bucks while never delivering, and eventually give up on it all.
Ouch!! Well, see the difference? Maybe not! Maybe we should not get used to such poor quality standards on providing wi-fi connectivity, regardless of the venue. While In Helsinki, I certainly experienced the future. And it is just gorgeous and bright! It’s something that I never expected it would be quite shocking as it was, yet so rewarding and fulfilling. Have you ever heard about being empowered, as a human being, thanks to technology and the Internet, regardless of whatever you may be doing? Well, I experienced that! And so much more!
6 thoughts on “I Think I May Have Just Experienced The Future…”
Right on, Luis! I just returned from Paris. Only wi-fi was in the bar: at 7 Euros/hour! Wired access in the room was 9 Euros/hour. And of course, my iPhone was not an option since cutting on roaming to access the net costs more than caviar at Petrossian.
I tell hotels that for me, internet access is like water. Imagine a hotel not providing water — or charging $10 a glass for it. Unacceptable!
How could we harness our collective clout to change the hotel policies? We need to let them know we’ll boycott them.
I don’t have an answer for the telecom providers. That’s monopoly at work. Perhaps if the regulators recognized how they are stifling innovation.
If we can come up with ways to bring Europe and the U.S. into the 21st century on this, I’m ready to man the barricades.
impressive numbers from Finland and not very surprisingly, bad news from Spain (I lived in Madrid, Barcelona and Tenerife).
Sometime ago I read broadband became a legal right in Finland in 2009. This was in an Enterprise 2.0 report for the EU Commission DGINFSO.
The last chapters are about the broadband penetration in the EU, this might interest you. Here goes the link and a quote:
EU Commissioner Reding’s policy targets to have “internet broadband for all Europeans by 2010 and high-speed internet broadband for all Europeans by 2013” does not explicitly define connectivity speeds for the two goals. Generally, broadband is regarded as any speed in excess of 1 Mbps and high-speed broadband as a speed in excess of 30 or 40 Mbps.
The broadband performance of a country can be assessed not just on its coverage and penetration levels. The ultimate aim for Europe is, of course, not the diffusion of broadband technologies per se, but, rather, to pursue the i2020 political objectives to boost the countries’ ability to promote social, cultural and political change, and innovation as well as to increase competitiveness and ability to grow.
Europe’s Digital Competitiveness Report highlights how the broadband performance index clearly shows that – with just a few exceptions – countries with the highest rankings have a balanced combination of the different factors. Both Sweden and the Netherlands have high levels of broadband coverage and competition, high average speeds, relatively cheap prices, high levels of take-up of services, and a sound socio- economic context. Denmark, which is in third place, shares very similar features, but is lagging behind the others for what concerns competition. These three countries are also those with the highest broadband penetration rates.
It’s a similar story in Australia, where major hotels charge for crappy internet facilities. It’s pretty much the standard over here.
I’m doing my small bit to improve the situation by refusing to stay anywhere that doesn’t offer a free internet connection.
I figure that the market has to demand free before we can demand “fast”, but one day we’ll get there.
One thing … you say *free* but it’s not really free. The Finns pay for it with a pretty hefty tax rate – around 55% is the average tax burden on individuals once you add it all up (income tax, property tax, VAT, etc). The actual cost to provide that service is anybody’s guess but I’m sure it wasn’t cheap. Although, I’d love to have it … 😉