We are just at the start of mobile computing. When I'm working in different countries around Europe using different ways to connect to the Internet I'm alway trying to answer the question "how could someone without much IT experience use that?". There are many times when I can't get a connection.
Today I've arrived at a 5-star hotel in Basel, Switzerland. The room description offers a low-cost high-speed Internet connection. The description doesn't tell what "low-cost" means. That doesn't matter anyway. Because it doesn't work. "It doesn't work today. It didn't work the last two days" was the answer from the reception.
I remember two years ago in Barcelona where a wireless network from a big provider was available in the streets. The home page from the provider allowed setting the language of the first page to English instead of Spanish. However, the following pages where payment was necessary switched back to Spanish. I failed to access the service.
Why am I connected now? I have a A1 Vodafone UMTS/GPRS card. Of course the first connections didn't work. It's always some minutes to wait for a timeout. Restarting the application and re-inserting the card helped. Earlier versions of the software always required a reboot of the operating system.
When the connection is working with the UMTS/GPRS card, there are very high roaming rates.
Last week I've been in Salzburg. At the location of my hotel I had very good signals from other providers in Austria, but a very bad signal from my own provider. The connection was lost every few seconds. Roaming is not possible within the country.
Mobile computing offers rich possibilities, but there's still a long way to go.