Here at the Westin in Los Angeles, connectivity is pretty good — about a megabit in each direction. (For a fee, of course.) But the last two days, at the Hilton in Loma Linda and the University of Redlands, were terrible. I’m not sure if it was just because they blocked stuff (as was the case with Redlands), or because the system was bad (as was the case with the Hilton), but I’ve come to the conclusion that two things cause these kinds of problems in general. One is charging for something that ought to be free. The other is subtracting value from something that doesn’t need it and only pisses off users.
In the long run it makes as much sense for hotels to charge for Internet as it does to charge for television. (Yes, they used to do that too. There were coin-operated TVs.) Or for using the toilet. But it’s a business because they know they need Internet service now, and because doing it themselves is too complicated. So they hire these outside outfits to do it for them. (In the case of the Hilton it was iBahn.) And too many of them just don’t do a good job.
Yet we saw in Loma Linda how easy it is to bring fiber to homes, and for anybody to hook by fiber to anybody. The cabling and conduit are progressing upwards in convenience and downward in price, to a point where it will be as easy to put in fiber as it is to install a drip irrigation system. What makes the Interent complicated is that it comes to most places as a secondary service to telephony and television. Yet it doesn’t have to be, and in the long run it won’t be.