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My experience of the internet in Denmark


My experience of the internet in Denmark

Earlier this month, I spent a week on holiday in Copenhagen, where I took in such awesome attractions as Tivoli Gardens, Roskilde Cathedral, Copenhagen Zoo and the Gladsaxe Stadium – home of Danish third-tier football club Akademisk Boldklub. Aside from all this though, being a cyber-nerd, I was keen to see how well the internet worked on what was my first venture outside of the UK in five years.

The omens were good; it was recently revealed that Denmark has the third-best broadband services in the world, and the nation has revealed that it is planning to build major international data centres.

Not surprisingly, I found the Danish experience of using the internet (entirely via mobile) better than the usual British one. There were three main reasons for this:

1. Excellent connectivity

Copenhagen is a bit unusual as a capital city in that there are parts of it that feel very rural and isolated. There were times when I was well off the beaten track, such as in the fields of Rødovre or even on the E20 bridge that crosses the Øresund between Denmark and Sweden, but I was never short of a good signal.

In Britain, you only have to go to a bit of a sleepy rural village before you’re frantically waving your phone about in the air trying to get a single bar of 3G. In Denmark, 4G is everywhere, and being out in the sticks doesn’t seem to be an excuse for poor service.

2. Wi-Fi on public transport

I would say the main reason I use up my mobile data allowance every month is because I spend so much time on Merseyrail trains, where the only Wi-Fi available is in stations within the Liverpool Loop Line, and it cuts out every time you go through a tunnel from one station to the next. Many buses in the Merseyside and Cheshire area do offer free Wi-Fi, but the service is slow and patchy.

I had no such problems in Copenhagen. Every time I jumped on the bus, train or metro, high-speed Wi-Fi was waiting for me. It also has to be said that public transport in Copenhagen is excellent. Buses and trains are cheap (about the only things that are in Denmark!), punctual and, best of all, regular, running 24/7. If you find yourself in Denmark without a car, be sure to bookmark Rejseplanen.dk – I found this English-language journey planner website an absolute godsend, and unfailingly reliable.

3. Hassle-free Wi-Fi connection

Something that really annoys me about Wi-Fi services in the UK is that you often feel as though you’re signing up to something. Many of them make you log in, wading through pages of drivel about the company whose internet you’re using, leaving you fearing that you’re subscribing to something. With GDPR now in place, these concerns should really be in the past.

In Denmark, whether you’re on public transport, in Tivoli Gardens or in McDonalds, the attitude seems to be that if you want to use our internet, just go ahead, and we’ll tell you how to do it in English as well. Coupled with the fast connection times, it all leads to a faster, less finicky way to access the web while out and about.

My conclusion is that Denmark appears to view the internet in a similar way to how it views public transport – as a service that should be there if we are to enjoy a high standard of living. Too often in the UK, we see such services as a way to monetise. When will we understand, like our Scandinavian neighbours, that trying to milk pennies out of people just for going online or getting from A to B is really old-fashioned and short-sighted? The point is that both the internet and transport drive the economy in other ways, and the easier and more affordable you make them, the better it is for residents, tourists and the businesses that serve them.

John Murray

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