Internet cafe

Bandwidth seems to be available and sufficiently good for mobile working but the wide disparity between upload and download speeds remains a big issuePhoto: Shutterstock

Written in a hotel coffee shop 12 miles from Cardiff and dispatched to via a free 50Mbps wi-fi link.

For over five years now I have been increasingly working in the cloud, gradually edging away from the old towards the new. But today I take a larger step than ever before.

Goodbye to my 15-inch screen and dual-core PC. Farewell to my 500GB hard drive and CD slot. I’m not entirely sure about this move. But it’s hello solid-state memory, single-core CPU, 13-inch screen and a greater dependence on connectivity.

I struggle with change like the next man, and it is generally a bit of a painful experience. But the work I do and the challenges I face demand that, at the very least, I eat my own dog food.

How could I profess to understand the cloud if I weren’t a part of it? And how could I advise on remote working and virtual companies if I wasn’t participating? I couldn’t.

Pushing for change is not an option – it’s what I do and it’s what I have always done. I have to experiment to discover and innovate.

So here I am, first week out with new kit and a more advanced mode of working. Two things triggered this change. First, my trusty 15-inch laptop is awaiting new parts and needs some repairs after recent condensation damage in the tropics.

Secondly, looking at bandwidth and its availability as I travel, I seem to be able to find sufficient of both commodities for my needs so far – although the predominance of bandwidth asymmetries poses a real challenge and operational limitation.

This graph shows the quality of bandwidth I have used recently and how it is vastly better outside the UK

This graph shows the quality of bandwidth I have used recently and how it is vastly better outside the UKImage: Peter Cochrane/

Certainly, I could do with faster and fatter connections with symmetric upload and download speeds. But right now networks seem just about to suffice, provided I…

…carry a 1TB pocket drive as my emergency data vault when operating from remote locations.

Of course, I usually know where the good hotspots are, or I seek them out. However, in the UK for example, the core network often saturates, and latency rules over performance in ways that a local wi-fi link cannot avoid.

Graph showing variations in upload and download speeds in various locations

LAN and wi-fi asymmetry: The huge variations in upload and download speeds in various locationsImage: Peter Cochrane/

As of today, a good percentage of my material is stored in the cloud, but my most used and immediate files are also duplicated on my machine. About 25 per cent of my applications are online but I’m some way off being 100 per cent free of carrying all my apps with me.

So far, so good. My machine seems to be man enough for the job, but I do need the network companies to stop asking dumb questions, dithering, and to get on with the rollout of bandwidth at 100Mbps and faster.

Below that speed the cloud will be continue to be wispy and cirrus in nature. What we all really need is 100 per cent cumulus.