The Critical 'I'

Read. React. Repeat.

Wednesday, December 17, 2003

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.