Like many parents, we’ve reluctantly brought an iPad with us on holiday. It keeps the kids entertained on the plane with movies or games and, whilst you’re running around trying to get changed for an evening meal, it’s a quick gadget to keep them from running amok.
However, one other advantage, which I should have seen really, is that all of the apps and games they’re using do not have any adverts. It’s not because I’ve purchased the full version of the games. It’s simply because we don’t have any WiFi (and actually I prefer it that way). Although some games let you advance further and collect more “coins” or find hidden levels by watching an advert, it doesn’t seem to have impacted their gameplay too much and they haven’t really moaned about it, other than the fact that there’s no way to connect to the iTunes Store to get more games.
This year I’ve personally gone completely cold turkey. No roaming package, no local SIM card, no special roaming data deal. I’ve even stopped messages and calls by leaving flight mode on, and boy has it improved the battery life of what is now just a “camera” with some apps.
This particular post is being written in Gmail, then I’ll make it live when I get a WiFi connection in a local bar or restaurant later. Although it takes just seconds to feed it into the WordPress app and add a picture, the surrounding scene is something to behold. Following the failure to implement fair European roaming charges, I find that every bar and restaurant offering WiFi in Cyprus is brimming with people on iPads or making Skype calls on their smartphones. In the past I’ve commented that this is a pretty depressing site, especially as a family meal should involve some sort of interaction and communication, rather than us uploading our intimate moments with our “social friends” online, but it’s partly due to the utterly rubbish roaming deals across Europe.
Take, for example, the island of Cyprus. I’m just south of the border between the Turkish side and the Cypriot side. I’m so close that sometimes my Vodafone handset picks up the Turkish cell sites. When I do I’ll get a message stating..
Welcome to TURKEY. As you’re in our Europe Zone 2 it costs up to 20.42p/min to make a call and 5.95p/min to receive one. Texts cost 6.9p and picture messages are 37p
All of this is exclusive of VAT of course, and don’t ask about data. It’s going to be insanely expensive.
Trouble is, when I pick up the CYTAVODA cell sites in the Cypriot side of the island, the prices are totally different, and I get this message..
Welcome to CYPRUS. As you’re in our Europe Zone 1 it costs up to 15.69p/min to make a call and 4.12p/min to receive one. Texts cost 4.9p and picture messages are 16.9p
So if I drive to the Turkish side of the island, it’s going to cost me almost 5p more per minute to make a call, more than a penny a minute more to receive one and my text messages are nearly 2p more expensive, with picture messages being more than double. It’s insane. The infrastructure and the masts are probably only a mile apart. We’re on the same island and this whole roaming thing is still a mess of insane and confusing pricing, especially when you’re crossing borders so easily. Yes, I know Turkey isn’t in the EU but it just shows, on one tiny island, how bizarre this situation can be.
The upshot, sadly, is that most people still don’t bother unless they know that they’ll be heading to a country covered by a special package or something like the Three “Feel Like Home” offer. Here in 2015 we’re still keeping communication to text messages and WiFi hotspots, which is spoiling our precious family time.
If nothing else, when you do go out of WiFi range you won’t get many adverts in apps or games.