I’ve just come back from a fantastic 2 week long vacation in Australia, and I absolutely loved it. The weather was a bit cold for my Malaysian body (especially in blue mountains), but overall the holiday was a well deserved break from nearly 8 months of non-stop work ;).
The one thing I did notice about Australia though, was that data charges were quite exorbitant. I stayed at various Youth Hostel throughout Queensland and NSW and was surprised that they charged nearly AUD7 per day for Wi-Fi connectivity. Needless to say, I wasn’t too impressed with shelling out nearly RM25 per day for something I get free from even my local mamak.
It was the same nearly everywhere else, even their coffee joints and cafes didn’t offer free Wi-Fi, one explanation I came across was that Australia was geographically very distant from the rest of the world AND it was sparsely populated, so the cost of supplying connectivity to the country was very high. Therefore, these cost were reflected in the amount users paid to go online.
In Malaysia, Tune Talk offers 5 Sen/MB, which works out to roughly Rm25 for the same 500MB of data I got from Optus, Digi offers a 600MB for an RM75. Well below the nearly Rm100 I spent on my Optus Pre-paid. So instead of subscribing to the local Wi-Fi, I decided to spring for a mobile data package, in this case the Optus Pre-paid plan that cost AUD30, with that I got unlimited minutes, 250 minutes to landlines, unlimited sms and 500 MB of data. That’s a lot of money, considering I wasn’t bothered about the other stuff except the 500MB of data.
Optus did however, offer unlimited mobile access to Facebook, twitter, Foursquare and Linkedin. Though, in my mind this didn’t really work based on what Optus was reporting I used and what my phone reported I used.
All in all, Malaysians have far better data coverage than our Aussie counterparts, but there are further implications.
This was the longest time I went without much online interaction. I must admit it was a bit uncomfortable. However, as I reflected more on it, I realized that data coverage ties in very much with tourism. Think about it, everytime you experience something new or novel, you’re likely to share that with friends and family, and that sharing usually occurs via facebook or even e-mail.
I felt this while I was in Australia as well, I was just so eager to share some shots I took of the Blue Mountains, the Opera House or even the rides I took at Dreamworld on facebook and twitter. However, because I was on a tight budget (just 500MB), I restrained myself. If I had shared those pictures, that would have acted as some sort of promotional advert for Australian Tourism to all the 500 or so facebook friends I have.
It would have been the same in Malaysia as well, if we offer tourist here Novel Experiences and free Wi-Fi connectivity they will more likely than not share those with Friends and family instantly, at the same time promoting Malaysian tourism.
Something to think about further, but I’m still recovering from 14 days of burgers and Fish N’ chips, I’m off for some well earned Nasi Lemak.