Mobile Internet as a Lifesaver

by Raphael Haase

Around two weeks ago, I was lost in the hills in Morocco. It was totally dark. No roads nearby. No one to ask. No lights. I was somewhere in the middle of nowhere, up in the hills. The village seemed very close, but I had no idea on how to get down. At some points, the descents were so steep, there was danger of falling in the dark.

Luckily, I had a local mobile internet card in my iPhone. I was of course far away from any roads, so the only thing that could help would be looking at the satellite image of the area to see if there was any hope if getting out of the hills more or less safely in the dark.

After freaking out a little at first, I looked at Google Map’s satellite image. It showed a path out. It would be a little adventurous, while not seeing much in the total dark, but eventually it led me out of the maze.

This shows how important and helpful mobile internet and smartphones can be. There would have been no way to find out with traditional tools like a map. The only thing that could theoretically have helped would be an iPhone with all those maps preloaded. But then again, I would have had to have thought about that before going up into the hills. Had I known that it will get dark so quickly though, I probably would not have even brought myself into this situation. So, being able to download these maps on demand when not having planned being lost in the middle of nowhere (when do you ever plan that?) is a real helper and can sometimes be a lifesaver.

I just hope now that we will have one global mobile internet tariff soon (i.e. <= 10 years). It's of course not likely, looking at the present slowness at which the carriers drop roaming rates. But, wouldn't it be great?

In the mean time, carriers have at least started to offer quite reasonable prepaid options. So, it is a hassle to switch sim cards in every country when travelling, but it makes using mobile internet everywhere at least possible for less than a fortune. My experience thus far was that also in general, it is a lot easier to navigate in a foreign country with Google Maps than with traditional tools like printed maps.