Swedish Info Society Access

Okay. I’ve complained about Swedish customer service, so now it’s time for me to bring up a point where Sweden shines: internet and mobile phone network access.

I don’t know what most of you have heard regarding Internet access in Sweden, but I think you’d be hard pressed to find a better place. Given way the country’s wired up, it’s not too much of a stretch to call Sweden one big ball of copper. Companies are also clever enough to utilize a pair of wires in the phone jacks as well for access. As a matter of fact, that’s exactly the kind of access I have.

At home, I have an ADSL (the connection of choice here) with up to 10 Mbps download and 1 Mbps upload). It costs me about $53 a month, but the Viking gets 10 Mbps for $44 per month including his IP telephone access with his ISP (lucky bum!). One of my friends has a fiber connection going directly into his house, and he was lucky enough to sign up with an ISP pretty much during its inception. They allowed him to tap directly into their line, and he was downloading data in the blink of an eye (probably up to 100 Mbps. It was unbelievable. Unfortunately for him, his ISP’s business grew (probably because of his good words about them), and some probably took a good look at the network, and it wasn’t long before they adjusted his access.

connection into their homes at no less than 2Part of my job is to provide Internet at home for folks at work. The latest deal they have is an ADSL connection of up to 2Mbps at a cost of around $42 per month. Yeah, it’s a bit steep by Swedish standards, but they also get access to the Big Business Customer Support section of their IT. That comes in handy.

Finding a decent wireless connection is pretty nice here as well. I’m sitting in a coffee shop in the center of Stockholm at this very moment with access to 7 unlocked networks and 6 locked (last count) [Hat tip to Erik the Red for pointing out iStumbler to me.]. Very rarely have I ever found myself out of reach of an insecure wireless network. No need for folks to worry about me, I’m not the malicious kind; however, I would definitely be one of the “6”. Call me paranoid ;).

When it comes to mobile phone access, Sweden is one of the most connected (click on “coverage maps” once there) countries in the world. It’s pretty much unheard of for someone to lose coverage in most places, but I have actually lost coverage once. It was up north, and I found out that my provider simply didn’t provide coverage up that far. Nevertheless, their rival provides coverage all the way up to Kiruna, which is in the Artic Circle. THAT was pretty impressive.

Something else just as impressive is the coverage in the subway. No matter where you go in the subway in Stockholm, you’ve got mobile phone coverage, and I’m not just talking emergency services. I remember going back to visit my family and friends in New York and wanting to use my mobile while I was riding the subway. I took out my phone, went to dial a number, and noticed there was no coverage. I was appalled. Then I laughed at myself and remember that the population of Manhattan is about the same of all of Sweden, so I relaxed. That said, I need to also be fair and point out that Sweden is roughly the same size geographically as California, so I don’t expect the U.S. to provide coverage this excellent… yet.

Until next time… Laterz.

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