Harry Potter and the Badly-Researched Press Release

(With apologies to JK Rowling)

The sound of a public relations owl tapping on the window of Harry Potter’s office caused him to look up, suddenly.

This was odd. Since Harry had left the news desk at the Daily Prophet to take up a more hands off role as director of content on the Muggle Desk the hordes of wizarding PRs didn’t bother him so much, preferring instead to harass underlings such as Rita Skeeter.

Harry opened the window and the owl fluttered in to alight on his desk. He unscrolled the little missive from its outstretched talons, and began to read the press release.

“Three crowned best network for commuters who like to talk, Vodafone for commuters on 3G, and EE for commuters on 4G,” read Harry. He made a mental note to pass it on to the Muggle technology correspondent.

It turned out, Harry read, that a survey conducted by the agency’s client had found that almost a third of mobile internet tasks and one in seven voice calls attempted on commuter train routes had failed during testing.

The testing found that Vodafone subscribers got the best 3G data service, with download speeds hitting 2Mbps. EE offered the best 4G service to commuters, with an average download speed of 5.6Mbps.

The survey also looked at voice quality and station connectivity, and found that St Pancras had by far and away the worst connectivity. Here engineers experienced an average of 99 voice and packet data failures during testing.

There was a quote from a spokesman, too.

Harry read the quote and considered what it said. Then, a puzzled look playing across his face, he picked up a small dish of powder from his desk, and walked over to the fireplace. He threw in a handful and spoke loud and clearly the address he wanted. Then, he stepped into the flames, emerging seconds later in a well-appointed, book-lined study at St Ermintrude’s, the wizarding college at the University of Oxford.

“Hermione,” said Harry, for it was her office. “How did I get here just now?”

“Are you feeling quite all right, Harry? By floo powder, obviously, which was introduced by JK Rowling in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets and later, if you remember, Sirius Black used it to talk to you through a fireplace.”

Harry showed her the letter. “Read that quote.”

“Leaves on the track, the wrong kind of snow, having to stand up all the way to work and back – commuters have enough to contend with without the kind of mobile connectivity problems we’re revealing today,” read Hermione out loud. “It’s hard to believe we’re in 2014 and in a situation whereby a trained wizard would have a tough time getting a signal on the Hogwarts Express while it’s sitting in St Pancras.”

“I’ve never called you on the telephone, have I?” said Harry.

“Well of course not. We have owls. Why would we need a phone? So impersonal,” said Hermione. “I’m not even sure I own one.”

“Arthur Weasley gave me an iPhone once,” said Harry, “but it’s just sitting in a drawer. I don’t know who he thinks I’d call on it.”

“No, mobile signal is certainly one thing we wizards never have to worry about,” said Hermione.

“But there’s something else…” began Harry.

“Yes,” said Hermione. “The Hogwarts Express leaves from King’s Cross. It’s never gone from St Pancras except that one year when there was Voldemort on the line at Stevenage.”

“Typical Muggles,” said Harry. “How could they make such a silly mistake?”

“Yes I’d suggest they check our books out of the library to catch up on a bit of light reading,” said Hermione.