The Internet took off when two things happened: the technology got easy enough for non-nerds to use, and flat-rate access providers removed the worries about the phone bills. It's thus a good thing that T-Mobile has announced a flat-rate wireless data package: buy one of their GSM/GPRS/3G/Wi-Fi cards and wherever you are, if it can find a T-Mobile hot spot, 3G or mobile network you can seamlessly connect and gorge away. Great. And the card only costs £99.
But oh, my dears, the service charge! Seventy quid a month. We're right back in the early days of mobile phones, where Joe Soak couldn't get a look in -- the only people who could afford such extravagance were wandering sales bods doing high-value deals. Used car merchants. Estate agents. Purveyors of fine chemicals to the gentry. The perception of mobile phones that this engendered did nobody any good: who wants to be a spiv?
And we risk repeating the exercise with T-Mobile's painfully pitched provision. Who most needs to be able to use the Net while nimbly skipping from place to place? Who stands to make enough money at this to afford the thumping monthly wedge? Let us hope that it's not spammers, virus writers, gangsters seeking to put the cyberpinch on bookies and those who surf the more exotic branches of human sexuality.
I'm sure T-Mobile has in mind only wholesome captains of industry, high earning, high status individuals who'll approach the product much as they'd approach the latest and most sparkling Lexus or Beemer. It would be a terrible shame were full 3G and hot spot net access to acquire a less than pristine reputation.