Australia :: June 1994 - March 1995

Subject: FW: Since when do dirt roads have toll booths?
Date: July 6, 1994 18:04

10:41 Toowong, Australia :: 7 JUL 94

Thank-you to Jim Boritz for forwarding to me an article from Business Week:

For Travelers, It's a Data Dirt Road

From Business Week - Technology and You, July 11, 1994
Edited by Stephen H.Wildstrom

Having attended a conference for writers in the digital age where the central topic was copyright, I'll let you all track down the article for yourselves. Essentially, Steve has experienced most everything I have but adds some research into what the future holds and even levels a blow at CC: Mail for lacking robustness in its remote product. (Not that MS Mail would entirely withstand that criticism, particularly the driver Compuserve supplies for it.)

I used the email address Jim gave and here's the result. My initial mail comes first and Steve's reply immediately follows:

RE: For Travelers, It's a Data Dirt Road

This is a pretty accurate and insightful article, but your travel experience appears to be limited to North America. Wait until you try the rest of the planet.

A couple weeks ago I began a four month sojourn through Oceania and South-East Asia beginning in Australia. Here, it's more like a cow path. This is a country in which public telephones are found on many residential streets; many of the homes apparently don't have phones. Outside the major metropolitan areas, I've found few telephones in the hotels and motels to the East of the Great Dividing Range, the relatively small geographical area supporting the vast majority of Australia's population. Connecting should get even more interesting in the Outback for which I depart tomorrow.

FALNET nodes, the Australian network through which I can connect to CompuServe, are found only in 6 cities in all Australia. This is a big country, so in addition to the $8/hr surcharge for FALNET I must also pay significant long distance rates for the connection.

I can't imagine what to expect in the South-East Asian backwaters that come next in my itinerary. I know this, surcharges for global network access for some countries in this region can reach $45/hr.

Staying connected can be a trying and expensive experience, but it beats aerogrammes. It won't beat postcards until notebooks contain the technology to acquire sound and video images.

Patrick Jennings

Steve's Response:

Yep. Bad as it is in the U.S. or Canada, the situation is vastly worse when you get overseas. Even in Western Europe, checking your e-mail from a hotel room can end up being more expensive than having your mail flown over in the Concorde. Compared to the rest of the industrial world, the technology of the U.S. phone system is actually a little backward (both wireline and cellular digital service are considerably more advanced in most of Europe), but when it comes to cost, there's no contest.

Of course, in much of the world, you're lucky to get any line that's usable for data. Good luck in Southeast Asia. At the end of the month, I'm going to test the limits of the U.S. phone system at the end of the wire when I travel, laptop in hand, to explore the Colorado Plateau in Four Corners region.

We'll see what data transmissions are like from Navaholand.


Patrick. -- Responses Sought --