Australia is somewhat a country. Good index for information society, quality of life and other social indicators. Melbourne is a great city, with good food and heaps of shopping. Not so much for the mobile worker, though.
I was visiting this country on holiday, and was set to have something to review and write for Geekzone (was this a holiday?). Australia is one of the first countries to have commercial 3G operations (with UK and Italiy). So I thought it would be great to have a review of this new technology on Geekzone. No way to do it. The mobile operator 3 (part of Hutchison) is probably having another shortage of handsets, a plague that affected its operations in UK, Italy and Australia since the beginning. I couldn't have one for a test, and not even could have one demo at their stores - I was informed they couldn't arrange any unit!
My next attempt was Optus. This mobile carrier is one of the few in the world carrying a Windows Mobile Smartphone (others include Orange, Smart and a couple more in Asia). No luck here either. After a few e-mails I've got a confirmation that their store on Collins St would contact me to arrange a demo - again in store, because they don't have any demo units available - another shortage? Anyway, although I've crossed the corner of Collins Street and Elizabeth Street a few times the last week, I heard nothing from Optus and again a no show in terms of mobile for review.
My third problem was Vodafone. Yes, the same provider I use in New Zealand, and so reliable here, was in fact a problem over there. First surprise: GPRS roaming is not part of my monthly GPRS allowance. So, the clock was ticking at NZ$0.05/10kbytes (US$0.025). Not very nice and when I found this I started using internet cafes for my e-mail activities. Next surprise was how unreliable the connection was. Using a PC Card GPRS modem I could barely connect the laptop and read my e-mails. The connection was awfully slow, and I couldn't stay connected for more than ten minutes before being disconnected and having to reset the modem. And that's with a strong signal. I experienced the same problem when using my Pocket PC via Bluetooth with my Nokia 3650.
Of course if you live in Australia and have any (good or bad) experience, feel free to use our forums to discuss this!