The Critical 'I'

Read. React. Repeat.

Wednesday, December 17, 2003

WALKIE-TALKIES INSTEAD OF CELLPHONES
Figuring the field is already thick enough with mobile phones, Hong Kong residents have taken to downgrading their technology with walkie talkies, at least as a backup option.

It's not as big a shift as it would seem: When you break it down, cellphones, like walkie-talkies, are not much more than fancied-up radios. When you get down to it, Hong Kongers are basically having retro-style fun with a toy.

I think there's something about the locale--a densely-populated enclave--that makes walkie-talkies a workable option. Here in the Tampa Bay area, I've seen ads on the beach communities (St. Pete Beach and others) selling two-way radios as cellphone alternatives. Range is basically from one end of a beach town to another. Monthly cost is about $20, which is just under what you can get on even the barest-bones cellphone plan. It sounds archaic, but if you know how these beach towns function, you realize it's just about perfect: There are residents there who literally don't leave the beach area for months at a time, and the only time they do is to head for the airport for vacations.