I'm winging westward at 33,000 to 37,000 feet on Lufthansa 468 headed to Portland from Frankfurt as I blog this.
I've already Skyped and Gizmo'd on the way over so I guess I'm in the Mile High Club now for VoIPsters.
In Europe I used three different mobile carriers. Transatel in France who I have a great cheap deal with, T-Mobile and 3 in Austria on the Nokia N90, and I have no idea until I get my T-Mobile USA bill for what ran over my Blackberry.
What I don't get is why a company like T-Mobile can't just make it seamless and cheap for me to use their service in the countries they are in. Instead I have to buy a SIM, add minutes, use them up and buy more. In the case of Austria, I was sold 3 at a shop so I figured I try it and I liked the service, though T-Mobile seemed more global centric.
Hotspots and Broadband. The experiences in my hotels, the Das Triest and Le Meridian in Vienna, Loisium Hotel in Langelois and the Le Meridian Garden Beach Hotels (other than the cost here) were second to none. In Austria I never paid for broadband in my hotel room, though they do seem to charge in the public areas and have no way to coordinate the two. WiFi in Das Triest was too simple. Open you browser. In Le Meridian I connected via Ethernet and at the Loisium I used my Zyxel Travel Router and made the whole floor wireless it seemed. The travel router made it easier for Helene who also tends to spend a lot of time on line working and of course shopping.
What was super impressive is the call quality. I recorded the KenRadio World Technology Round Up on Monday with Ken (he was in L.A.) and he remarked how better it sounded than when I'm in the USA on Cable Modem. Later in the day I had a conference call using FreeConferenceCall.com and Gizmo. Not only was the call free up until around the time everyone was coming back from dinner at the hotel and the network was getting slammed, the call quality was superb.
To stay connected I used a combination of CallVantage's Locate Me, Webley and GizmoProject in. I also played with PhoneGnome's SoftGnome while Helene used that to make some calls along with her cell phones. In almost all cases no one could tell we were using Voice Over IP to make calls. I gotta believe that hotels are taking a beating on phone calls from executives armed with high quality laptops.
The only snafu I really saw was in Frankfurt where I couldn't make a VoIP call at the airport and in Austria where my T-Mobile Hotspot account seemed to not work.
Given how easy the trip is getting technology wise and how I'm finding quality hotels to work out of with broadband to only dream of in USA based hotels, I'm leaning more and more to trips to Europe to meet with clients and attend conferences when I have to.
I mean, it's becoming too easy to stay connected.