A recent snafu with my cell phone roaming plan really brought home what it’s like to be one of the bandwidth have-nots.
Unfortunately, AT&T has a policy of not automatically transferring features when you get a new phone. So I ended up in a London hotel room, waiting for my cell to ring with directions to a meeting and…no bars, no service. My international calling plan was non-existent.
Well my old trusted fallback was so old (2 years!) that no number on it was working (they were all disconnected and not forwarded).
Can’t call 1-800-CALL-ATT. NO international access to US 800 numbers.
OK, frustration building (what was that about no bars?). Call the hotel concierge (help!). Here’s the AT&T international number, they say. That, too, is out of service.
So I am in a foreign country (at least I speak the language), but no way to communicate to my carrier, with a phone and PC I can’t make calls with, and awaiting an incoming business call. Not even Skype can bail me out at this stage (no WIFI in the hotel). What to do?
It occurred to me that for just a brief moment (or maybe an hour), I was in the land of the technology have-nots. Off-net, no way to plug into the ether, starved, lonely, looking for attention, with nowhere to turn.
Kind of like an inhabitant of Vatican City, which according to Wolfram Alpha is last on the list of places with internet users – 90,000 (versus the US at 223M; by the way – China just passed the US with 253M users).
It also shows how much wireless is overtaking regular landlines – to the point of the atrophy of phone numbers for landline calls. Or the inability to get number information, especially without internet access (an interesting conundrum).
So, you may ask, did I finally get “on-net”? Yes – thru the British Telco operator, who connected me to a landline AT&T operator, who connected me to a wireless AT&T service number, who turned everything on in seconds. Problem solved.
Burton Group mobility analyst Paul DeBeasi has forecasted how wireless will overtake landline in all its forms (his posts here). That time seems to have come. But our need for landline (and human-based service) just keeps on hanging on.