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Report From A Weary Mobile Traveler

Well, my trip to Madrid and back to cover the Nokia Applications Summit and S60 Summit was met with good success from a technology standpoint. My mobile phone had no problems adjusting to the European flavors of GSM, though I
Well, my trip to Madrid and back to cover the Nokia Applications Summit and S60 Summit was met with good success from a technology standpoint. My mobile phone had no problems adjusting to the European flavors of GSM, though I am dreading my bill next month, as Cingular charges by the kilobyte for data services abroad.Though I knew my cell phone was able to automatically roam globally, I called AT&T/Cingular about 10 days before my trip just to be sure. They told me I'd have no problems, and they were correct. I didn't.

One thing I noticed right off the bat. Here in the U.S., my phone automatically captures an EDGE data connection wherever I am. Over in Madrid, it wouldn't go beyond GPRS. I was surprised that the standard 2.5G EDGE network was nowhere to be found. After doing some digging, I learned that Madrid, as in many other European cities, went straight from GPRS to 3G UMTS/HSDPA networks. EDGE was more often deployed in rural areas where 3G is too pricey to offer.

So even though I was in a city with full 3G coverage, I was stuck with an older-generation data connection. Still, it worked. Email flowed to my device with no issues whatsoever, and text messages made it to the U.S. nearly instantaneously. It's always nice when things simply work as they are supposed to.

I can't say the same for the hotel's so-called free "broadband." The GPRS connection on my phone was swifter.

I was able to do all the same mobile Internet tasks I do in the States with no issue. Browsing WAP sites was easy, looking up the weather, posed no problem, and Google returned its search results just as quickly.

All in all, a successful test of the capabilities of today's mobile services.