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The Internet is barely usable over a dial up connection. I know, duh.

Last week I researched wireless hotspots and broadband connections in some areas I will be traveling to this year (both business and personal). I figure this is 2006 and wireless is so widely available I would not have trouble getting connected when I was away from home. I was wrong.

I have enjoyed a broadband connection for the last seven years or so. It is now an everyday part of my life, and one thing I count on being available to me all the time. I know how spoiled I am by the reliable DSL connection in my home office, and the ones I use at clients, on the road in hotels and campgrounds, and even in some of the restaurants I eat at. These last two days with a dial up connection have proven again the Internet is not designed for even casual use over a 56K modem. Don’t get me wrong, I am thankful Ameritech, oh sorry – SBC, um, I mean AT&T; have dial-up numbers for their DSL customers. It is perfect in situations where you are on the road and there is no wireless access.

Email has been fine except for one particularly large attachment I got this morning which slowed the entire email pass down. This is not the part I struggle with today. Browsing Web sites has been a trip. A very slow trip. I feel like I am working in slow motion. I want my instant gratification. Today the Internet world is automatically a graphic intense experience. Companies feel the need to be “flashy” and artsy to stand out in their industry, and differentiate them from their competition. I understand this need, but have the graphic artists and Web designers forgotten not all people are connecting through broadband channels?

I know it is easy to argue that most people are connecting to the Web these days via broadband. But I still know many lower-tech families who do not feel the need to pay US$30-50 a month for their Internet access. They don’t use it. In Michigan I have seen a slower DSL service offered for US$13 (cheaper than many dial-up only offerings), so the argument is getting weaker. I guess the dial-up folks have more patience than I do.

I have a different perspective of the Internet of late: mobile access. As you may know from previous posts I have a new Treo 700w. When I bought this remarkable phone I decided to try out the Verizon data service. It is a bit pricey at US$45 a month, but I wanted to try out the platform. I like it. I like the ability to review email when I am not at my PC, I like the fact I can look up business addresses (like where is the closest Panera Bread), and I like being able to Instant Message with clients and geeky friends. It has been an interesting experiment. But browsing the Internet has exposed me to another problem, the Web is not yet “mobilized”. Some sites are, but most sites are formatted and optimized to the general public using a full size browser. Pages are too big both in width and in content. Heck, even my Web sites are difficult to use on this platform. The question is: does this matter? I don’t have the answer yet, but I suspect is does not matter today. It might matter in a year or two. What do you think?

So I continue to enjoy my dial-up for the short term, and occasionally get my broadband fix at a local McDonalds when I need to send large fries (I mean files {g}), or want some instant speed when researching on the Web. I access this through the AT&T; Freedomlink service. It is only US$2 a month, which is inexpensive and well worth it for me. Heck, last year I paid US$40 for a month of T-Mobile access at Kinko’s when I was traveling for a week. Freedomlink is only US$24 a year so I am way ahead.

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