Last week I was in Munich. I had an important call scheduled with a customer in the morning after I landed, so I planned to take the call from the hotel, a 5-star establishment of a well-known international brand.
And truth is, I was very uneasy.
Uneasy because I knew I had to rely on the hotel Wi-Fi. The call involved several people dialling in from multiple locations, using both audio and Web conferencing. The Wi-Fi connection had to be reliable and fast for the call and demo to go smoothly. And based on my experience with hotel Wi-Fi networks, I was uneasy. The hotel offered two connection options: regular and fast. Of course I chose the (more expensive) fast option, to minimize the risk of connectivity problems. Fortunately, the call went fine.
Today I read this article on GigaOM about hotel Wi-Fi, which states: “the fact of the matter is that both the quality of network connections and the bandwidth available on the network simply sucks”. I couldn’t agree more. The author complains about free Wi-Fi, available in most hotels in the US. The more disturbing news is that most hotels in Europe still charge exorbitant prices for Wi-Fi (typically around $20-30 per day) and you still don’t know if you’ll get a good, reliable connection.
Surely it is time for hotels to understand that Wi-Fi is no longer a “nice to have” feature. Just as the beds need to be comfortable and the showers need to have decent water pressure, so do the Wi-Fi networks need to be fast and reliable.