Sometimes you only really appreciate the value of a service when you can no longer access it.
For around the last four years, I’ve enjoyed having my corporate email pushed onto my smartphone. That means, wherever I’ve been, I’ve had a good idea of the items waiting for me when I open my email application on my PC – and I’ve very often been able to answer emails from my phone (and/or write new emails), without needing to trouble my PC. It’s been a great productivity boost.
However, yesterday I crossed over the border from Peru to Bolivia, as part of a long anticipated two-week long family holiday in South America, and all the GPRS connectivity to my phone ceased. I’ve been in a state of mild shock ever since. I’ve not been able to access the services that I’ve come to take for granted in previous holidays and business travel around the world. That includes BlackBerry push email connectivity, frequent mobile access to information sites such as the BBC, Wikipedia, Google, and Facebook, as well as interaction with various mobile forums or discussion groups.
I’m sure I’ll enjoy the sights in and around La Paz over the next 48 hours. For example, there’s the ruins of Tiwanaku, a pre-Inca city which is said to have been, around 700AD, the largest city anywhere in the world. But I’m also sure there will be many moments during these 48 hours when I’ll be instinctively reaching for my smartphone, ready to look up some information snippet that will provide more context to what I’m seeing with my own eyes or hearing from the tourguide, and then I’ll realise that, for the time being, I’m cut off from that richer information world.
Footnote: My internet connectivity is provided by Vodafone UK. None of the network operators that I can see from my phone, here in Bolivia, seem to have working GPRS roaming back to Vodafone. If anyone knows differently, I’ll be delighted to hear from you!