A few meters away

I first traveled to the US over the summer of 2006 to stay at a host family in Indiana, Pennsylvania. Everything was different, including deer walking in the front yard of our house as we arrived the first night or unlocked doors in every household.

One thing I still remember is my host student, Steve Johns, making a call on his flip phone from the front seat of his car while it poured outside. I quickly realized he was providing instructions on what to get from the trunk to a friend who was a few meters away, right outside the car.

Back then in Spain, we still payed to establish a call, for every minute we talked, and for every message we send over SMS with our mobile phones. So it seemed crazy that Steve would make a call instead of talking through the window. They already had plans with unlimited calls and messages.

Phones became smart and cellular plans started to include unlimited calls, messages, and internet data, which allowed calls over the internet, a movement pioneered by apps like Skype and now supported by many, such as FaceTime and WhatsApp.

I don't get free roaming in the US with my home carrier, which translates into prohibitive data prices. I use a Vodafone Yu S SIM card when I cross the Atlantic and always bring a tool to swap cards in the air before landing in American land.

The limit today is the amount of data. But that also seems to be going away as plans offer hundreds of gigabytes for ten euros a month. It's weird that's cheaper to connect your smartphone to the internet in the US with a Spanish carrier.

Today, most people with a phone has access to the internet. I use my phone when it's convenient, even if I'm talking to someone just a few meters away.

September 5, 2023
Nono Martínez Alonso

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Pencil sketch of Nono Martínez Alonso.