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Going backwards

Generally speaking, over the 9 years we’ve been in Italy, our telecommunications facilities have improved.

We started off with business landlines for which we paid astronomical monthly bills, then moved on to transponder ADSL, then dongle ADSl.

Ever since we renewed our dongles at the beginning of this month, talking on Skype – for which we have a subscription that allows us unlimited conversation with landlines practically everywhere in the world for no extra charge – has sounded like being slowly strangled underwater.

We tried at different times of day for days, then finally tracked down articles on the internet which confirmed that all the main Italian carriers, with one possible exception, are deliberately discriminating agains VOIP, of which Skype is an example.

We went yesterday morning to a shop which sells packages for that ‘exception’ which proved not to be, of course.

Clive had a radio interview coming up today so we had to move fast. We bought a new mobile phone and a pre-paid package which gives 4 hours of calls per month to all phones including those in a useful selection of foreign countries.

I took advantage of our parking space to do some shopping in a very expensive supermarket, came out, and the car wouldn’t start. This was lunchtime on a Saturday which also happened to be the Feast of the Immaculate Conception so getting hold of anyone in a garage was an impossibility. I had to bat my eyelashes in my best Damsel in Distress Act to entice a young man to emerge from the warmth of a Bar to give us a jump start.

In the afternoon, as snow was beginning to fall, we discovered we couldn’t get the back off the phone to insert the SIM card and the battery. Nothing on the internet helped (except to make us feel a bit less stupid because no-one else could manage it either) , the shop itself advised us to return, so return we did, even though it might mean we never got home again.

Then, as we sat in the carpark, we got all sorts of messages on the phone which suggested our credit was being gobbled up at a rate of about 3 Euros per non-call (by non-call I mean: phoning our other mobile just to see if it rang) and by the time we realised we probably needed more credit, the shop was shut!

We crept back up the snow-covered road with flakes hurling themselves at the windscreen.

Driving into snow

Driving into snow

We’re beginning to get to grips with our new telecommunications facility now, but it’s definitely going to make us feel more isolated.

  1. December 9, 2012 at 3:48 pm

    Well, I’m going to appreciate my computer and cell phone access today. We’ve had slow internet service in the past and have experienced no cell service in some spots in the mountains but in general things work well and fast and I’m grateful.

    • December 9, 2012 at 6:04 pm

      Things work well for some people here – depending on their requirements. It’s absolutely standard to see people with mobile phones glued to their ears for most of the day, chatting with fellow-countrymen. Internet/phone packages abound. The worst of it is that we were quite happy with what we had before!

  2. December 9, 2012 at 4:17 pm

    Oh dear, not a good day for you all round. Luckily in the south west of England we haven’t had snow yet, but it is forecast this week, not looking forward to that.

    • December 9, 2012 at 6:11 pm

      Snow makes things awkward for us, too, but I still hope we get it. It’s a sort of ‘suspension of responsibility’! Most of all I hope for it on Christmas Day. I always think it’s very churlish of the weather to bring snow before or after and not on the day.

  1. December 19, 2012 at 7:52 pm

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