If, like me, you have been complaining about unusually poor Internet service in hotel rooms lately, the hotels have a good explanation.
Largely because of the broad use of iPads and other mobile tablets, which are heavy users of video streaming, the guest room Wi-Fi networks that most hotels thought they had brought up to standard just a few years ago are now often groaning under user demands.
“The iPad is the fastest-selling device in consumer electronics history, and because of it the demand placed on any public place Wi-Fi system has gone up exponentially in the last year and a half,” said David W. Garrison, the chief executive of iBAHN, a provider of systems for the hotel and meetings industries.
This means more hotel customers are unhappy with their Internet connections. Hotel owners, meanwhile, who are digging out from a two-year slump caused by the recession, will probably have to invest more money to provide more bandwidth.
For travelers, it may mean still another fee, since hotels will be paying their own Internet bills. Some hotel Internet service providers are proposing a solution that offers tiered Wi-Fi service. The lowest level, suitable for basic Internet requirements like checking e-mail, would be free, but other levels would be priced depending on bandwidth requirements. According to iBAHN, iPads consume four times more Wi-Fi data per month than the average smartphone.
Hotels had been slow to respond to the idea of a tiered fee system. It is estimated that 10 to 15 percent of hotels in the United States now offer at least some kind of Wi-Fi service with fees for higher use.
Studies conducted for iBAHN indicate that while free Internet service remains a big factor in choosing a hotel, nearly two-thirds of business travelers say they have encountered slow Internet downloading in the last 12 months. Over two-thirds said they would “not return to a hotel where they had a poor technology experience,” iBAHN said.
Hotels now must choose either to not increase the amount of bandwidth, so everybody will get much slower service to the point where you’ll think you’re on a dial-up connection, or upgrade and essentially put in a metered fee-based system.
The research firm the Gartner Group predicts that the number of iPads sold will reach 100 million by the end of 2012. People are now carrying multiple devices. People are using their laptop and their iPad at the same time, and maybe even have their smartphone on.
Will you opt to pay an added fee in a hotel room for the extra bandwidth you may require?
How do you feel about these additional charges on the horizon? Are they really justified when the economy lodgings have provided free wi-fi for years, while the 5 star hotels charge an arm and a leg?
Thanks to JOE SHARKEY at the New York Times, and
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