The Cloud and pervasive internet...

In 1980's, William Gibson wrote about a three-dimentional, pervasive, internet-style future. We're almost there now. Well, aside from the three dimensional bit. And the pervasive bit.

I found on my recent travels that obtaining and securing decent internet connections was either very difficult, or very expensive. We (of course) switched off data-roaming on our iPhones before we left Heathrow airport - we didnt want to return to a multi-thousand pound data roaming rip-off charge.

We then found each country had different mobile internet infrastructures (3g in the US can use different bands to 3g here in the UK - the net effect is that devices such as a UK sourced Mifi2 might not work abroad). Some other countries such as New Zealand appeared to have so little internet that each single megabyte was rationed and charged as if it were gold dust.

(I was charged 50 NZ dollars [approximately £25] for 500mb of online access. Which I consumed in about 12 hours)

Here in the UK, I can access 100gb of bandwidth a month. In NZ, the hostel (with 20+ rooms) had access to under 5gb.

Even in Hong Kong, switching data on either meant plugging the laptop into the hotel room line (where it got blistering speed) or we had to throw ourselves to the mercy of the telcoms companies and purchase an additional device.

In my experience therefore, we are not yet at the stage where we have pervasive internet. Its close - and with a lot more planning than I wanted to do - I'm sure can be achieved.

So what does this mean to the day-job and the rush to the cloud? What this means is that overstretched and outsourced IT departments will be asked by their internal customers to sort out all this data roaming stuff. Without access to cloud applications, the users themselves will not be able to work.

I fully expect slightly more customer-focused mobile operators (such as Vofafone) to step into this gap, supplying femtocells, increasing network access in non-urban areas, and to provide international data roaming that doesnt involve handing over first-born children. But the less successs ones - such as O2 - will just continue supplying bad service, massively restricted service, little network coverage, and huge bills.

Surely a city or even country wide wifi network isnt beyond our ingenuity ? Have we yet reached the stage where internet access is no longer considered a luxury or a plaything of the data-savvy ?

Perhaps this is something that our grandchildren might aspire to, given the glacial progress of data here in the UK (where we're still running ADSL technology defined in the nineties, and providing internet speeds a small third-world country might find restrictive)

So its on this rather bleak call to actually provide pervasive internet that we then look to all these cloud technologies that our IT vendors want us to switch to. All these technologies that wont work without internet access.

I for one dont believe off-line access is no longer required, and thanks to the appalling service provided by the likes of O2, dont see a near-term future where internet connectivity can be taken for granted. 

You might want to consider any cloud-plans from that perspective.