The mobile phone has progressed greatly over the years. And for many seniors the level of sophistication and functionality required is easily met by the sort of basic handset that is widely available at a modest price – from just £12.95 at Argos this Christmas. They provide calls and texts in a small package that goes for days without a recharge. Many of these phones use what is known as a 2G network – the first of which was launched in the UK in 1992.
And even though there has since been roll-outs of first 3G and then 4G networks many of the older generation have been happy to stick with their familiar mobile phones. A choice that has previous worked fine when holidaying abroad – and avoided the high data roaming changes often incurred by smartphones. That is until recently.
Travelers from the UK to Australia expecting to use their reliable 2G mobiles will be disappointed – as the main network provider, Telstra, closed their 2G network on 1 December 2016. The second largest network, Optus, did the same in a two stage process completed in August this year. The only remaining operator, Vodaphone Australia, will shutdown their 2G service by March 2018. So visitors to friends and family Down Under still using 2G phones should consider picking up a basic unlocked 3G phone on arrival .. at least that will work while there and probably when you get back home as well. That way you are covered if the UK networks follow and start shutting down their 2G networks soon.
The promise of the UK leaving the European Union and regaining at least some of its traditional independence may be the highest profile issue for British Grandads – but there are other devolution issues in the air.
Indeed the calls for Scotland to leave the United Kingdom have still not gone away despite a clear majority vote in 2014. So the Saltire was often spotted amongst the Catalan flags in the pro-independence Barcelona marches. However the refusal of Spain and the EU to recognise the Catalan result may well have dampened the thoughts of a second vote in Scotland. Certainly the organisers of RefFest 2018 have abandoned their efforts citing a lack of funding. But in practice it may be that enough evidence has emerged since 2014 for voters to see that a future EU is aiming be a single conglomerate state playing on the world stage. A state where no nationalist politicians or devolution movements will be allowed to get in their way. Not an attractive proposition for any regional separatists.
Meanwhile at a purely local level, in England, voting is presently in progress on a devolution choice for the good citizens of Doncaster. The options being to form a Sheffield City Region or a Yorkshire wide region – with Yorkshire looking the firm favourite. Results are due before Christmas …
One month without any posts while enjoying a holiday in the sun. So has anything happened while the keyboards have been silent?
Well last Friday saw the flurry of political activity in London and Brussels linked to the announcement of a major milestone in our attempts to leave the European Union. Every effort has been made since the news broke to make the limited progress made sound like some modern equivalent of the Magna Carta. At this rate Whitehall and Westminster are certain to win another Whitehall Farce Award. Oh what a mess they are creating!
Elsewhere the snowfall over the weekend meant great fun for the grandchildren – at least in some parts of the country. It also was fun for the Grandads remembering how many times the author of Snowfalls are now just a thing of the past has been proved wrong since The Independent published the article some seventeen winters ago.
On the technology front Microsoft gave us all the chance to test our patience again while waiting for Version 1709 of Windows 10 to trundle on – Grandad’s laptop has been downloading and installing for the past six hours. Meanwhile Wikipedia keeps ask us for money to help keep itself afloat. A request that seems a bit rich given that much of their content has been created for free by volunteers – many of whom, like us, have to pay for their Internet access. And worst still there are plenty of US tech companies in such strong financial positions that they could easily fund the entire operation without denting their bottom line.