The dangers of speed testing abroad

This week got off to a good start as digital commissioner Neelie Kroes announced on Twitter that roaming charges in the EU would be limited once again from 1 July at 20 Euro cents per megabyte. To make the announcement she posted a telling infographic that showed how roaming data charges had changed since 2009. Quite a lot as it happens. Back in 2009 prices were a simply unethical, eye-watering 6 Euros per megabyte and that only came down on 1 July 2012, when they dropped to 70 euro cents. Even at the current 20 Euro cents however, it seems expensive, especially once you’ve become used to using the internet pretty much freely at home.

roaming_info

A 3GB package on EE serves me well in the UK, though last month I did run out a day before the allowance was due to be refreshed, which meant my smartphone becoming less than smart for a day or so. What do you call a boomerang that doesn’t come back? Answer: A stick. And a smartphone without data? Well, it’s a stick. Or at least a brick.

One forgets how tied we are becoming to cloud services. I use Apple’s iTunes Match service on my phone, which enables you to stream your music from the cloud, without having to have it stored locally. As such I’ve just become used to playing my music without thinking about it, but on this day – there was silence and it took me a while to realise that it was because I was cut off.

This ever increasing reliance on the internet means that it becomes ever more jarring when we go abroad and find that we can’t do the things we’re used to doing. Hunting down Wi-Fi hotspots just isn’t convenient or practical.

So the lowering of roaming charges, at least within the EU, is more than welcome, and the reports that all roaming charges could be removed completely by next year is fantastic news.

One tip in the meantime though is don’t conduct a speed test when you’re roaming, just because you’re curious. If you’re a speed nerd at home, you’ll probably not realise how much data they actually use and having just bought a £2.50 roaming data add-on on EE when in Amsterdam recently I hit the speed test button only for the test to stop midway, as I’d run out of data. No speed test result. No data. £2.50 down. Egg on face. Learn from my mistakes people.

We need roaming charges abolished not only so we can conduct our business and communicate with our families, and learn more about the local region, but so we can speed test to our hearts content. Speed geeks of the world unite. Let’s make it happen.

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