WiFi on planes, tubes and trains, we all know its coming – good or bad?

Marco Bertozzi:15.01.2010
It is inevitable. 10 Years ago when you went on holiday that was it, you were out of touch, out of sight, out of mind. That was not just about the technology it was also a reflection on work society not demanding you to be available, a holiday was exactly that.

Over time the demands by work have increased more and more with technology aiding and abetting all the way along. Phones turned to Blackberrys and iPhones, every conceivable space became WiFi and generally speaking now there are less and less problems with phone connectivity around the globe. As I mentioned above there are two issues here, one is the way it has become more and more acceptable to disturb people on holidays and at weekends and the other is technology making communication possible wherever you are. I want to talk about the latter.

The biggest thing to change here is the march of WiFi into once untouched havens of non connectivity. The train, although mobile broadband has eroded that for some time, but the bastions, that have withstood all attempts – the air flight and The Tube!

Its all changing, WiFi in planes is already up and running in the US and in 2010 Lufthansa, Virgin and sure many more will pick up the mantel for International flights. Interesting that research in the US has shown that there is a huge drop off of usage when one has to pay (up to 12 dollars for a 5hr+ flight), cost being the issue, I am not so sure. I think that people are not ready a world where they are never out of touch. Why would the usage drop off because of the cost? Its mainly used by business people who would expense their companies anyway, no this is about the last haven for people to not be contacted, trying to be retained. The plane flight is an opportunity to do what you want to do without guilt, work, sleep, play, talk, whatever suits, without blame. Marc Ruxin in his blog on a similar discussion quoted the fact that Napoleon often waited six months to answer post as most of the things that were urgently needed to be done had either been done or disappeared..so true. How many times do you catch up on email that if you had been there right from the start you would have waded in, but because you were caught up elsewhere they sorted themselves out.

On a situation closer to home, the idea of having connectivity for your phone on the tube will be both very useful and very annoying. Again the tube journey for many is their time to think, digest the news, read a favourite book etc etc, that will be destroyed by getting a signal. And what will the subject of the calls be about? ‘I am running late’ ‘problems on the tube’ ‘my boss is an idiot’ you can imagine, except multiply by thousands in a confined space, as far as I am concerned the Tube just got worse Obviously it will be a brilliant turn of events when I need to make that ‘I am running late call!’

All in all though the erosion of these last frontiers of isolation just answers probably what people are after but sometimes I think only because of either mobile addiction or work pressure. Deep down dont we enjoy those times where we are forced to consider filling our own time rather than Outlook telling us what we should be doing?

One thought on “WiFi on planes, tubes and trains, we all know its coming – good or bad?

  1. Mobile Reception is on tubes in Hong Kong too. Surprisingly people were respecting the tube culture and it was only a week of riding the MTR before I saw/heard someone abusing the silence. That was last year – I’m sure it’s like a mother’s meeting by now.

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