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Bia hoi.

Bia hoi.

Not to bang on about it, but I'm currently in Vietnam having a truly great holiday and once again I've been struck by how much Australians overcomplicate things ...

In Vietnam, the line between a problem and its solution is absolutely straight, not bent around government regulations and legalese or forced to snake through thickets of political correctness and paternalism.

A case in point. The tiny bia hoi beside our hotel in Nha Trang is run by a bloke in his 50s and serves jugs of shivering cold, beautiful pale ale for one dollar.

You'll get five or six mugs of beers from every jug - so you do the math on how much Australian breweries rort us with the prices we pay for the amber nectar in our country.

Anyway, if you want a takeaway, old mate empties a jug full of beer into a plastic bag, ties it off with a rubber band, then sticks it in a shopping bag with some chunks of ice. Then he has his mate home deliver it to you via moped for 25 cents.

Try pulling off that business idea in Australia and you'd disappear under so many laws, rangers, coppers and council workers you'd be paying your legal bills until The Rapture.

In regards to price, it makes some sense that something like beer would be a little cheaper because of the lower costs of production in a country like Vietnam.

But when it comes to telecommunications ... what gives?

Every single cafe, bar or restaurant you walk into in Vietnam has free, fast wi-fi - perhaps the keystone of any modern economy - yet we condescend to call the place a third world country?

My friends and I visited a collection of fishing shacks half an hour out of Nha Trang - literally in the middle of nowhere - and they had free wi-fi there.

You can wander the 'wilds' of St Kilda or Bondi for half an hour trying to find a wi-fi connection, which you'll then be asked to pay for seven times out of ten.

I toddled off to find a SIM card for my mobile when I arrived here - and outlaid 60,000 dong - about A$3 - and it's kept me going through about ten texts, four local and three calls home to Australia.

And it's not like it's getting any better in Australia.

Telcos are now reducing the data allowance you get on mobile phone plans.

The Age reported Tuesday that "Australia's three biggest mobile phone providers have slashed the amount of data offered in their plans, some by up to 40 per cent on last year ... a sleight-of-hand price increase.''

So someone - anyone - explain it to me how a 'Third World' beach shack where beers cost 60c can afford to offer free wi-fi but it costs you hundreds a year to get the same service in your house in Australia?

I'm currently on semi-leave. Moderation will be a little hit and miss because of the time difference.

You can follow Sam on Twitter here. His email address is here.

64 comments so far

  • The biggest killers to enterprise in Australia are government bureaucracy, the welfare state (especially middle-class welfare that wastes money on buying votes and redistributing money from the productive to unproductive), red tape and so-called public enterprise.

    Where to set the level of government involvement is open for debate, but we have gone too far and need to reduce it.

    Commenter
    Bender
    Date and time
    November 08, 2012, 10:46PM
    • When it comes to telcos, what is needed in Australia is MORE government intervention and regulation, not less. Having spent the last decade in Europe, I can assure you that the scandalously expensive mobile phone costs went down was when the EU intervened to cap roaming rates etc, after years of theiving by the likes of Vodafone.
      Then I come back to OZ and find that the telcos are robbing everyone blind and the regulators seem to be incapable of stopping them.
      Regarding WIFI, I was in Greece in May and it was free in many hotels etc, but not all. In the UK, however, it was very expensive in hotels, so it isnt just an Australian problem.

      Commenter
      Big Noddy
      Location
      Glebe
      Date and time
      November 09, 2012, 5:06PM
    • care to share any examples of the difficulties you've experienced in dealing with government bureaucracy and red tape whilst working for private enterprise, bender?

      Commenter
      hired goon
      Date and time
      November 10, 2012, 12:15AM
  • The compliance nightmare that is Australia is the price we pay to live in what is one of the greatest countries in the world. Vietnam may have free fast WIFI everywhere but try accessing the healthcare system, starting a business, pursuing equity or god forbid in a situation where you need the support of the government to meet your needs...

    Just on WIFI Maslow's hierarchy of needs should be updated to include WIFI on the first level alongside breathing, food, water, shelter, sex, sleep, etc :)

    Commenter
    JimmyFlorida
    Location
    ParallelLiving.net
    Date and time
    November 08, 2012, 10:48PM
    • On the subject of being rorted on the price of beer in Australia, here's another example. You can buy a case of VB stubbies in Dubai for 25% less than you can in a Sydney bottlo. WTF??

      Commenter
      Only Here For The Beer
      Date and time
      November 09, 2012, 12:20AM
      • One word, taxes

        Commenter
        morph
        Location
        Sydney
        Date and time
        November 10, 2012, 4:11PM
      • Indeed, taxes, based on the premise that the more expensive the VB is, the less of it we'll drink.

        Patently not true. See: That bloke with all his stuff in a trolley, who sleeps under a bridge, but somehow still has enough for a flask of sherry.

        But if you want real heavy booze taxes, try Singapore. +$15 for a glass of beer at a bar.

        Sub $15 for a bottle of good hard booze at the airport, Duty Free.

        Commenter
        MCPC141
        Location
        Sydney
        Date and time
        November 15, 2012, 3:00PM
    • I agree with you Sam.

      Data connection fees are unbelievable in "first world" countries.

      11 Years in Vietnam and now covering Cambodia as well. Whenever in Australia, I struggle to understand why people complain about internet costs.

      VND200,000 (AUD9) per month unlimited data, calls. etc.

      A big fan of you commentary on life and sorry to miss you in Saigon, if I had known you were in town...

      I hope you enjoyed the Crab and corn soup at your friend's wedding...

      Commenter
      Anh Cao
      Location
      PNH
      Date and time
      November 09, 2012, 1:26AM
      • Could be for the same reason you don't encounter too many vietnamese tourists sampling the delights of "The wilds of St Kilda or Bondi" They are paid peanuts while you can afford to laze about, in foreign parts drinking mugs of beer! And good luck to ya!

        Commenter
        egg
        Location
        marrickville
        Date and time
        November 09, 2012, 5:15AM
        • you should of have used some of that free internet to work out that internet is extremely government subsidized.

          Commenter
          Victorious Painter
          Date and time
          November 09, 2012, 7:30AM

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