Once the size of house bricks and the hallmark of the "yuppie". Now market penetration is such that it's hard to find someone who doesn't have a mobile phone. Mobile phones are now perhaps one of the fastest growing method of communication onboard.
With the huge explosion of interest which is the internet of course the mobile phone companies have (slowly) been trying to get a piece of the action and now offer some interesting access methods and tariffs including "GPRS" and "3G".
GPRS and 3G
GPRS and 3G are buzzwords for a new way to be billed for using your mobile phone. Basically, instead of being billed for how long you use the phone, instead you pay for the amount of computer data you send (no matter how long it takes).
So a large email costs more to send than a small email - but at least in theory you can remain connected to the internet all day and not be charged (only if you actually do something on the internet you pay based on the number of characters sent and received). This actually works out as a bargain for computer users because your total bill is based on the number of characters in the email rather than how long it takes to send and receive the email.
Using an email compression service like our teleport-mail service cuts your bill even further since you are paying based on the number of characters sent and received across the link and our service ensures that all data is compressed before it leaves the computer - hence you pay only a fraction of the usual price!
Of course with anything new it takes a while before the rest of the world gets into sync. A lot has happened in the last 12 months and at the time of writing you can expect a European mobile phone to work nearly everywhere in the world via GPRS (including the Caribbean), with the exception of North America and Japan. However, alternative fast internet access methods are available in these places so just switch to a local alternative.
Nearly all modern European phones should be capable of GPRS, but you will usually need to ask your operator to enable the feature for you. Also you will likely need to ask your operator to enable your account for use overseas (referred to as "roaming").
It's highly desirable to also look for a mobile phone with "Bluetooth". This buzzword refers to a short distance radio link which with a partnering card in the computer allows your computer to talk to the phone without any wires. Surely a big win - fewer wires on the chart table is always a good thing.
Prices vary depending on operator, but Vodafone in the UK is perhaps the most expensive tariff and works out at around £7/Mb, Orange is more middle of the road at £1/Mb, so do shop around for the best prices.
You can send and receive quite a few emails for that price so it's good value. However, beware browsing the web where a couple of large graphic loaded pages could chew through 1Mb in just a few clicks...