If your job takes you on the road, you’re probably at the mercy of whatever technology a hotel provides. In some cases, your hotelier pulls out all the stops, providing Ethernet jacks and high-speed access. Other times, you’re stuck with a single RJ-11 jack that you have to share between your phone and your laptop.

After reading “Coming to a hotel near you: High-speed access,” several members wrote in to share their opinions about the quality of hotel technology for the traveler. Here is what some members told us about two hotel chains that offered excellent access, and one that just didn’t cut it.

Connected at the Wingate Inn
TechRepublic member Michael Delzer stayed at a Wingate Inn and found the hotel offered high-speed Internet, Ethernet-based access for no extra charge. The system allowed users to choose between the hotel’s firewall-protected service and unprotected access that allowed the use of a VPN.

Desks in the hotel allowed users to plug their own cable into a socket or use a cable that the hotel provided. The extra hotel cable was an added plus for travelers with systems that use a normal Ethernet cable, as it would allow two users to connect from one room without requiring extra equipment.

“Using a cable I brought from home, I was able to work anywhere in the room,” Delzer wrote in an e-mail. “This made a long stay away from home a little more comfortable.”

No luck at the Marriott
No high-speed access in Des Moines
Frank Bulk, a network administrator for Sioux City, IA-based Dordt College, recently traveled to the Marriott in Des Moines, IA. “It didn’t have any high-speed access at all,” he said. “The PC they provided in the business area had a modem, and users were expected to use their own AOL account. I don’t have an AOL account, so I just created a DUN object and dialed long-distance to my home ISP.”

Even worse for Bulk, the PC was an older, slower, Pentium MMX with 24 MB RAM running Windows 98.

“Needless to say, it was swapping constantly while running IE5,” he said. “I was very disappointed.”

Firewall is VPN-proof in Austin
Will the hotel where you’re staying allow you to use a VPN? Tammy Smith, a systems administrator at Austin, TX-based Liaison, said her company’s CEO tried using a VPN but couldn’t get past the firewall at the San Francisco Marriott.

“To me that seems like a waste of high-speed access,” Smith said. “Maybe the dial-up modem won’t go by the wayside.”

Smith suggested that, before making any reservations, business travelers ask whether they will be able to use a VPN in their hotel. “I would consider it if it’s important to you.”

Sunstone Hotels keep you connected
For some hotel chains, making sure business travelers can stay connected has taken top priority. Jim McPhee, IS Manager at NuEWorld.com, said that STSN, which provides technology and information services to hotels and motels, had signed a contract with several hotels during the past year to provide high-speed access in hotel rooms.

One of the chains is Sunstone Hotels, where McPhee was a network administrator for five years. Included in each room were:

  • A USB jack, an Ethernet jack, and a standard RJ-11 telephone-line jack—all of which were plug-and-play.
  • A USB cable, a CAT 5 Ethernet cable, and a CD with drivers and instructions in case your laptop’s plug-and-play capabilities aren’t up to snuff.

The hotel also kept PC cards at the front desk for travelers who forgot to bring one. Users were charged $9.95 for a 24-hour, noon-to-noon period.
What good is a five-star hotel if you have one-star technology in the room? What do you think is a fair price to pay for high-speed access in your hotel room? Send us an e-mail or post a comment in the discussion below.