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IT Law: The nicer the hotel, the worse the Internet connection


Sci-fi author John Scalzi has formulated a new techno-axiom whilst on his current book tour--Scalzi's Law of Hotel Internet Connections, which reads thusly:

The more expensive the hotel, the more expensive and/or crappy the Internet connection.

I think he may be on to something. The average but not luxurious hotel that hosts ConGlomeration, my local science fiction convention (wherein I'll be hosting a trivia contest) has pefectly useful free wi-fi throughout the hotel, but it ironically doesn't extend to the convention space (weird, I know).

Meanwhile, a number of the fancier places I scouted for TechRepublic meeting events expect that you should rent a USB Wi-Fi link and/or pay for access to the connection. It's like Starbucks has taken over the hotel industry. Considering how cheap it is to set up wi-fi these days, you'd think hotels would roll out the free stuff as a selling point in a competitive industry. Works for non-Starbucks coffee shops. Schmucks.

About

Jay Garmon has a vast and terrifying knowledge of all things obscure, obtuse, and irrelevant. One day, he hopes to write science fiction, but for now he'll settle for something stranger -- amusing and abusing IT pros. Read his full profile. You can a...

22 comments
ipeters61
ipeters61

I went to a Providence Westin last summer, it cost $299 for the room and $9.95/day for Internet Access, it was slow as crap. I went to a Boston Holiday Inn Express the next week, it cost $179 for the room, and the Internet Access was free, and slightly better.

maryklarson
maryklarson

Why is it that the budget motels (e.g., Super-8) have free wi-fi, and yet a three-star Sheraton makes you pay $9.99 a day for it? Probably because business travelers on expense accounts stay at nicer hotels and don't mind expensing the internet access to their employer or client. (I speak from personal experience.) The average motel guest is on personal travel and is paying for it out of pocket and will definitely choose the cheaper hotel, especially with a few freebies thrown in.

Roscojim
Roscojim

The expensive chains feel they can rip off the business traveler since the company pays anyway. I guess they don't care that the cost is pushed on to the consumer. Expensive hotels are ripoffs - I give the mid-priced chains all of my business!!

Eternal
Eternal

I was at a conference two weeks ago and the hotel claimed to be tech friendly. Wireless in every room, blah blah blah. I stayed there about a year ago, and the wireless was horrible, 2400baud if lucky(at 3am) Luckily I had a rj45 jack in my room, that was actually usable. This hotel has 20 floors of 19 rooms, is some what ritzy, but only has a single 1.5Mbit DSL line for the whole hotel. For the conference my employeer brought in a second DSL line and it was still horrible, they had to shut down internet to rooms and hotel lobby for the webcasts to be any bit reliable. We have a hotel here in town who has a single 2.5 or 4.0Mbit dsl connection, and they limit it so only 10 rooms can go online at once with a 3hour dchp lease.

acalford
acalford

Having worked in the hotel industry in my youth, I can tell you that most management view Internet connectivity as a profit center and the staff view it as yet something else a guest will complain about... I have experience everything from great (Extended Stay Suites) to abysmal (Hotel Pennsylvania in NYC), and cost rarely has anything to do with quality. Who the provider is, how well it was installed, and how many people use it seem more important issues. When we were moving last year, my wife moved before I did and needed Internet connectivity while she was staying with a friend who did not have wireless. I got her a Verizon broadband card, and she had few problems with it. I've used it many times, including on a laptop during a blackout, and have been happy with the decision. It is slower than Wi-Fi, but being able to connect while you're in a rural area or without having to use a possibly insecure network can be an advantage. But I would say that if you don't travel a lot, or use your laptop away from home often, it's probably an expensive solution.

Marty R. Milette
Marty R. Milette

In Russia at one of my previous hotels, the local ISP was contracted to provide Internet service for conferences. They would charge typically $1,000 for a 2-day conference for a 2mbps dedicated wired connection. If you wanted Wi-Fi, you'd have to set that up yourself. Hotels are seldom able (technically or logistically) to set up decent connections for conferences themselves, and it would be unreasonable to expect the normal Wi-Fi system to scale to a geek-fest.

d.fletcher
d.fletcher

I work at an upscale resort and we charge for internet..which sucks but to be fair, the capital used to put in the infrastructure and equipment was substantial. It isn't just putting in a wireless router hooked to a cable modem. We are talking close to a million dollars. Then groups are another thing, the demands put on the resort by groups are many and it almost wouldn't be worth the trouble if it wasn't bringing in some heavy duty moola.

jmgarvin
jmgarvin

I mean honestly. If Holiday Inn can do it, so can EVERY OTHER HOTEL CHAIN. The problem is that up-scale hotels don't care because business pay the tab and not the individual. Typically internet access is $9.99 up to $14.99, but the other, "cheap", chains do it for free. So, why is that do you suppose?

Roscojim
Roscojim

I just laugh when I read about business travelers staying in expensive hotels and complaining about the Internet service. I just want to scream, "Hey moron - stay at a Holiday Inn Express or similar chain and get good service!" But then, I guess I don't get my expenses paid by some big business with a crooked and greedy CEO either.

Roscojim
Roscojim

...so can the expensive ones. I don't want T3 access to 200 people - all I want is Internet in my room so I can get e-mail. That's not asking anything that the cheap hotels don't already deliver.

mdhealy
mdhealy

Absolutely true, I have come to *prefer* several mid-price chains to the "high-end" ones for just such reasons. I suspect the expensive hotels are trying to make up for what they used to rake in by overcharging for telephone calls but cannot get away with now that most of us bring our own phones. Also my preferred mid-price chains have buffet breakfast in the lobby.

jmgarvin
jmgarvin

I'm tired of staying at "high end" hotels that give you everything but what you want AND charge an arm and a leg for "breakfast."

Roscojim
Roscojim

I try to stay at Holiday Inn Express as much as possible. The price is decent, the rooms are great, there's almost always a pool and Jacuzzi, and the free breakfast is the best in the industry. Also, there's always free Wi-Fi that's fast enough for anything I want to do online. I belong to the Priority Club, and most of the time have one or two free rooms ready to use.

NickNielsen
NickNielsen

My preferred hotel in Myrtle Beach is a Holiday Inn Express. As you said, the price is decent, and the rooms and breakfast are great. The hotel I usually stay at also has the advantage of having a pub across the parking lot...you can't beat $2 pints!

fastncrazy
fastncrazy

I think you are dead on! On a recent support gig in Chicago we were at the Fairmont who bragged that they had a 6Mbs broadband Internet connection. Our meeting organizer swallowed the lure hook, line, and sinker. What appeared to be a good deal was at best a bait and switch. This promoted connectivity had to be shared throughout the hotel, meeting rooms, conference rooms, and client rooms. On top of that their ISP provider had no clue how to handle the needs for a fully secured VPN connection. The upshot was that VNP connections were throttled to, at best, 650Kbs which meant that when 37 people were online with a fully secured VNP they had at their disposal about 17Kbs! Very disgusting to say the least!

dspeacock
dspeacock

I've never had an access problem at either chain. Fast access, zero hassles, and free.

uberg33k50
uberg33k50

The software vendor we deal with primarily has a conference in Denver every year. For the past 2 years we have stayed at La Quinta there. They are great and inexpensive with FREE and quick Internet. Last year our company stayed at the Hyatt in Philly which was expensive and Internet access was an additional charge.

wimpee
wimpee

In my opinion, you always get what you pay for. If you paid nothing for the service, and you could surf the web, then you're getting what is expected. That is what FREE INTERNET or FREE WI-FI means when you see those signs on the hotel premisis. If you require a higher level QoS with guaranteed support for an offsite meeting, then you should be willing to pay for that level of service and plan accordingly. The ISP could have possibly planned ahead. Doing so will also help guarantee the support level as well when problems arise and need to call the ISP. I help support a hotel chain and most customers who pay for internet service during conferences do not have a problem when using a quality VPN client. If using the built-in Windows VPN with PPTP, then issues can arise.

null.corey
null.corey

Embassy Suites San Jose. $10/day. Wireless was horrible. I had connectivity problems, and when I was connected, throughput was extremely slow. That was in a Hilton Honors suite. DoubleTree San Francisco $10/day. Wireless connectivity was good, but throughput was slow and latency was high.

jmgarvin
jmgarvin

Tough cookies...that's the way it is...sorry.

wimpee
wimpee

Since you paid for the access, I am curious what the resolution was when you called and asked for assistance and explaination? Did someone connect to the switch and see if it was operating correctly? The point I was trying to make, but obviously failed to do well, was that, with paying for access, a certain level of support should be expected. What is different in your situation compared to my customer is that my customer at the front desk KNOWS who to call for support and doesn't just apologize, say "gee whiz, it usually works fine", then offer to call "somebody" but never does.

jmgarvin
jmgarvin

At the Hilton in Pleasanton, CA it costs $9.99/24 hours and your throughput varies from bad to awful. I paid for it, but why do I still get crappy service? I'll tell you why. Hotels don't want to pay IT people to maintain their networks and push off all their problems on a horrible ISP that could care less if the hotel lives or dies.

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