Traveling to the 2010 PHP Forum in Paris, I’m sitting in on of the TGV’s (the high speed trains going from Luxembourg to Paris, for instance) and I was hoping to be able to connect to the Internet wirelessly, especially as I’m traveling 1st class. Unfortunately, and albeit I’ve been reading all over the Internet that all TGV trains in the east of France should have WIFI on board, there’s no sign of it.
I do have an “unknown” WIFI network that seems to be at a constant 80 to 90 percent signal strength, but any attempt to connect to it fails, as I don’t even know the correct SSID to use. My last hope is to catch one of the SNCF employees in the train and try to get some meaningful information from them.
Now, what is even worse, is the fact that it seems impossible to find any detailed information about this anywhere on any of the SNCF or TGV-Europe websites. I did find one link on the www.tgv-europe.lu website, but it was broken (Sorry, this page does no longer exist…). I personally think it’s a shame that the SNCF and their partners invested a lot of money to make wireless Internet available in their high speed trains, and then omit to publish meaningful information for customers on how to use this service, and details on to where exactly it is available, at what speeds, and at what price.
So, in the meantime, I used my iPhone 4 in tethering mode to get Internet on my Lenovo X301. This allowed me to quickly notice how awfully expensive Internet roaming is – I have a subscription with luxembourgish LuxGSM, unmetered national data plan – but I’m traveling through France now. So, staying connected to french operator Orange’s 3G network and doing some normal office work like reading my E-mails, connecting to ZenDesk, and writing this blog post for approximately one hour, made me receive an SMS from LuxGSM to warn me that I had approached to 98% percent of the 100 euro data roaming threshold that I defined.
WTF!? Less than one hour of online work over a foreign 3G network, and already 100 euros of 3G related cost? It’s about time that someone gets these data roaming prices down. In 2010, it is not acceptable to pay 100 euros for one hour of Internet usage, regardless of where you are and what device or wireless technology you use. My luxembourgish fellow Ms. Viviane Reding managed to get some very nice customer oriented decisions to be taken by the EU commission while she was responsible for the telecom matters some years ago, but mostly limited to voice call roaming prices. Dear Viviane Reding, can you help me and probably some more 450 thousand Luxembourgers to get cheap data roaming calls when traveling abroad? It’s actually very easy to be traveling abroad in a country like Luxembourg which is roughly 70 x 40 km on the map.
I’m writing this blog post offline now, and will publish it once I arrive in Paris and have access to the Wifi of my Hotel room, which actually costs less than 100 euros a night – the room, breakfast and wifi included.
While writing this, the train has been slowly but steadily accelerating… looking out of my window, I can see the landscape fly by VERY quickly by now, so I guess we must be approaching the 320 km/h cruise speed of the train. Not bad at all
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