I recently travelled from the UK to the USA for a holiday (or vacation). Prior to leaving, I checked how much data was going to cost on my Palm Pre when abroad. It was an eye-watering £6 ($9) per MB. Yes, per MB. Needless to say, I turned off data roaming as soon as I left the UK.
However, I wasn’t prepared for the sheer abundance of free wi-fi in the US. Odds-on, if I turned on my Pre, I’d be able to find a free connection, whether I was in a store, restaurant, bar or tourist attraction. And while the data speeds weren’t extraordinary, they were perfectly acceptable for email, web and downloading podcasts. I was saved.
Here in the UK, free wi-fi is fairly rare outside of coffee shops. Usually you have to get the encryption key from the store or else sign-up for a user name and password. In the US, the networks were unencrypted and at worst, you had to tick “Accept terms and conditions” before getting on-line.
So I’d like to give a big thank you to Starbucks, Barnes and Noble, McDonalds, Safeway, Phoenix Sky Harbor airport, Pancho McGillicuddys and the Grand Canyon Caverns for the use of their free wi-fi while I was out and about.
I’m particularly indebted to Safeway – I’d start off my podcatcher (drPodder) when I got my shopping trolley and by the time I’d finished getting the groceries, GNC and my other podcasts would have been downloaded. Food for the mind as well as the stomach!