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Hotel WiFi: Bad, Expensive & Rarely Adequate

We work in digitally connected worlds.

When the “connected” part meets hotel WiFi, business frequently uffers. And more often than not, it suffers badly whether you pay for faster service or not.

This is on my mind having just attended the  Unified Symposium.

(Remember, also, that the vast majority of free WiFi hotspots are insecure. Your most sensitive data can be scooped up out of the airwaves with many different free software programs  — like AirSnort or Fern — downloadable off the web.)

Anyway, my ability to get News Fetch out to almost 20,000 subscribers every morning can be a chore without solid WiFi. While the actual sending of each email is handled by my server connected a big fat optical backbone with lots of bandwidth, gathering the news can be very hard.

I personally view more than 200 web sites each morning beginning around 4 a.m. Sluggish WiFi means long load times for the web sites. This can turn a process that usually takes three hours into one lasting four or five.

This year, I stayed in a hotel in Davis because all of the Sacramento hotels I have ever stayed in have crappy WiFi regardless of price.

(Nope, I am not putting the name of the Davis hotel in here because then I won’t be able to get a room there at a decent price for next year’s Unified.)

HIGH PRICE = MEDIOCRE WIFI

This piece from the LA Times At luxury hotels, faster Wi-Fi comes at a price was my reminder today to write this piece because, as you’ll see from the speed tests, below, high price often buys mediocre internet, especially at Hilton properties.

Back in December, 2013, I stayed overnight in San Francisco because I was attending the Hinman & Carmichael “Big Bottle” party and did not want to drive back to Sonoma afterwards

I was prepared for the Hilton’s lousy and expensive WiFi because I have a “MyFi” Personal Hotspot that turns Verizon’s cell signals into a WiFi connection. I originally bought the MyFi in San Luis Obispo several years ago when Hilton’s Embassy Suites WiFi cost me  $9.95 and offered a signal barely better than two Campbell soup cans connected with string.

Anyway, last December, I checked into my room at the Hilton just off Union Square and decided to see if Hilton still hated business travelers.

Their standard — $9.95/day —  WiFi was so bad, I upgraded to their special “High Speed” service ($16.95).

Below are screen captures of Hilton’s abysmally slow and phenomenally expensive service. After running these tests, I had the front desk refund my $16.95.

HILTON: SLOOOOW AND $$$$$$

As you can see, Hilton’s expensive WiFi clocked in at 3.7 Megabits/Second (MBPS) — something to be more expected at a NoTel-Motel in Bangledesh.

Clearly, Hilton hates business people and has expensive WiFi for suckers.

I was, however, surprised that my iPhone 5s personal hot spot gave me a blazing 18.3 MBPS, more than twice as fast as the MyFi at 7.7 MBPS … that despite the fact that both devices were placed at exactly the same spot on the desk. This is probably because the iPhone was newer and had more efficient radio circuits. This despite the fact that this was an upgraded MyFi purchased in the fall of 2013.

HILTON SPEED TEST

Hilton "Premium" AT&T WiFi

Hilton “Premium” AT&T WiFi — First World ripoff and Third World prices

MYFI – VERIZON SPEED TEST

Verizon MiFi Personal Hotspot

Verizon MiFi Personal Hotspot

IPHONE 5S PERSONAL HOT SPOT
Screen Shot 2013-12-05 at 3.25.19 PM