My hotel in Amsterdam uses a bizarre 5-pronged plug to link the
room's telephone to the house system. By withdrawing the plug
slightly I can insert the contact points on my pocket voltage meter
to determine that there is indeed 50v DC current flowing with the
proper polarity through two of the 5 prongs.
I clip my aligators and hook up my modem.
Next step is to consult the handy list of worldwide dialup numbers
provided by Valley-Infi.Net, a small ISP in Utah that is a member of
something rather intriguing, the IPass Alliance. Mike Jensen of
South Africa put me on to them. Minimum $5 per month, plus online
charges for calls not in Utah.
Yes, there's a number for Amsterdam, but also for Maputo and Gaborone
and Abidjan and Dakar and Johannesburg -- all the stops on my present
I instruct my computer to dial the local Amsterdam number. I type
in a rather complex series of numbers in response to various login
prompts to connect via SITA to Valley-Infi.Net in Utah. A few
moments later, I'm online at 19,200bps -- I'll try upping to 28,800
next go round.
Loading Pegasus Mail, I quickly download my waiting messages from my
regular service provider in Washington, the Institute for Global
Communications. When the mail exchange is completed, I quickly log
The whole process took two minutes, and the connection seemed quite
fast. I will be charged 22 cents a minute for being online, plus
about 50 cents for the local telephone call. Not bad.
On my previous Africa trips, I've either had to dial international or
beg/borrow access through colleagues and friends, or pay rather stiff
registration fees to register with a new ISP in each town visited.
Boardwatch Magazine (the only magazine to which I subscribe!) has an
interesting story about Internet Roaming -- I think it was their
January issue. There is an interesting follow up editorial in March.
I don't have the URL for the specific story with me, but their
general address is www.boardwatch.com.
IPass and Pricing information are available:
I'll be testing this system out at each of the stops on my present
trip. Will be arriving Maputo tomorrow (Monday).
Implications -- companies like AfricaOnline seem interested in
establishing points of presence in each African country. It might be
cheaper for ISPs simply to join a "roaming" alliance like IPass.
Small ISPs, like the small ISP in Utah that I am presently using, can
then offer worldwide network access for their customers. Small ISPs
in Africa could presumably do the same.
Jeff @ Amsterdam
[log in to unmask]
1111 North 19th Street Suite 210
Arlington, VA 22209 USA
Tel 1-703-235-5415 Fax 1-703-235-3805