Staying connected

22 Oct
October 22, 2012

I’m attending BroadSoft Connections this week – a major conference in the world of VoIP. For those who aren’t familiar with the name BroadSoft is one of the world leading companies in the industry and produce a hosted VoIP telephony platform complete with a range of ancillary services and products to provide service providers with a complete ecosystem.

Just because I’m attending a conference doesn’t mean I’m not working this week – there are a whole bunch of things going on back in the office that I need to keep abreast of, not to mention the fact that we’re planning on moving house soon! It’s been a year since the last Connections conference – how have things changed?

This year I’m travelling with four Internet-enabled devices – two smartphones (one work, one personal), a tablet PC and my laptop and – more than ever before – I’m realising that my life is so integrated with the Internet that when I go somewhere where my usage is curtailed, I really struggle. My ticket was booked online; I had an e-boarding pass. My entry into the US was contingent on completing the electronic travel authorisation (ESTA). The hotel booking was completed online and we registered for the conference online. I didn’t check any maps before I left – why bother when I have Google Maps on my phone (I wanted to make sure I arrived at the right place, so Apple Maps was out). All of this was tracked through Tripit – a great application that I use to organise my travel and help keep me up to date with unscheduled changes.

Those are my needs – what’s the reality? As soon as I arrived, both of my phones alerted me to the fact that data whilst roaming was expensive. I hadn’t made any preparations nor was I going to bother buying a local SIM as I have a range of services on my phones that depend on this mobile number – Vodafone are charging £15 for 5Mb of data as a flat rate. Orange texted me and told me they charged £8 per Mb – woah! But they also offered a package where I can turn on a service that, if I use any data, costs £6 per day for up to 30Mb – then we’re back to £8 per Mb after that. However they also provide an app that helps you track your usage and provide warnings. Once connected, the speeds I’m getting here in Phoenix, AZ are pretty impressive – the networks obviously have plenty of capacity.

Wherever possible, I’m using wifi – it was free in the airport and its also complimentary in our hotel, the Hilton-family Hampton Inn and Suites. Here in the venue hotel, the Westin Kierland, the wifi is free for guests but not for conference attendees, and it struggles with some 1,000 people attending this conference.

Either way, I’m pretty impressed – I’m managing to keep myself connected fairly effectively and managing to keep up to date with what’s going on at home, even if that does mean getting woken up at 4am this morning by an urgent phone call! Last year, I struggled a lot more with finding decent data – the conference venue wifi problems appear to be a common theme however, something that hotels like this really should have a better handle on. Maybe next year I’ll check out local SIMs as an option – or maybe by next year I won’t need to…?

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