There’s gotta be a better way

In the long run paying for wi-fi in your hotel will be like paying to use the toilet or the heater. You won’t. Meanwhile, it would be nice if it were easy, cheap, good, or at least two out of those three.

Right now I’m 0-for-3 at my hotel in Amsterdamn. I just had to call for tech support. The front desk is no help. They punt it to Swisscom, the provider, to which I paid ¤22 ($34.23) for 24 hours, starting this afternoon. When I came back from a sojourn away from the hotel, Swisscom wanted a login and password, and told me the front desk would have it. The desk didn’t, so they got me Swisscom, which looked up my credit card payment and got me a login/pw that the service supposedly gave me on the website the first time around, but I missed it.

Anyway, we’re back up. With a download speed of 384Kbps and an upload speed is 179kbps, I haven’t paid more for less since the worst days of dial-up.

11 comments

  1. Arthur Mitchell’s avatar

    There must be a better way, indeed.

    I am confounded by the inverse relationship between hotel prices and free wifi. Expensive hotels charge you for wifi, cheap ones don’t. Even when they’re under the same corporate umbrella. Ritz Carlton? Charges for internet. (Not even wifi!) Courtyard by Marriott? Free wifi. Both part of the Marriott Corporation. Go figure.

    The weirdest thing I’ve run into (not including lousy connections) is the 4:00pm 24-hour start/finish time at the Doubletree in Norfolk, VA. If you log on at 3:59 p.m., you pay $9.95 for one minute of internet usage. If you log on at 4:01 p.m., you pay the same amount for 23 hours and 59 minutes.

  2. LiveBlogging #acer DER - Digital Education Revolution, Adelaide | Learning with the Fang’s avatar

    [...] from Education.au bought her own (even longer) cable – now that is what I call being prepared. Doc searls wrote something interesting about his today, his point being that paying for wifi in a hotel will [...]

  3. Russell Nelson’s avatar

    I want to lie down on my bed, pull out my Nokia n810, and find out that it’s already gotten online via the hotel’s wifi, which is named “linksys”. Go ahead, laugh if you want, but I’ve stayed in hotels where it worked exactly like that.

  4. Jonathan Marks’s avatar

    I think you should name and shame the hotel. Amsterdam has become one of the worst connected cities in the world for this kind of thing – and they supposedly hosting the International Broadcasting Convention in September each year. Connectivity is a nightmare. Looking forward to your talk this afternoon

  5. Doc Searls’s avatar

    Jonathan,

    I’m generally slow to condemn when redemption or correction is still possible. I gladly crapped on the Thistle Kensington Park in London because they were both hostile and hopeless. (I ended up working with Visa to refuse the bill.) This hotel is neither. I also used the wi-fi yesterday. Tonight I’ll use Ethernet and see how it compares.

    As for the rest of Amsterdam, you know more than I do. Connectivity at the show so far seems good, but there’s no multi-laptop load on it yet.

  6. Doc Searls’s avatar

    Russell, those are the best. I’ve been in them too.

  7. Crosbie Fitch’s avatar

    What do you think of ventures that attempt to persuade everyone and their dog to only permit members of a select club to use their suitably permissive wireless access points (in exchange for a share of the membership fee, and possibly a bandwidth consumption fee), if they otherwise keep their wifi access points private?

    Why doesn’t everyone just leave their access points open and cut out the admin and middleman? Game theory anyone?

    Or is everyone petrified by drive-by pariahs? (hackers/id thieves/terrorists/paedophiles)

  8. Bryan Alexander’s avatar

    It’s an iron law: the more expensive the hotel, the pricier and lower quality the internet. The less expensive, the cheaper and better. I’ve been saying this for years.

    I find myself using a Sprint PCS card most of the time, these days. Especially in airports.

  9. Prolific Programmer’s avatar

    Hopefully, local government will get its act together and deploy municipal wifi, thereby killing all of this rubbish regarding paying with wifi with twice the content of your bank account.

  10. Doc Searls’s avatar

    Public wi-fi is a tragic uncommons. In 2002-3, it was abundant and free from homes and apartments, the online embodiment of what Nicholas Negroponte called the equivalent of flower boxes.

    Then paranoia struck, and there was too much business in locking down and closing off. The Netgears of the world sold access points defaulted to WEP, Apple and Microsoft started asking if you want to join an “insecure network” or whatever, and the UK government made rulings that all but outlawed open access points as security risks.

    Meanwhile, private access points have hardly gotten any better.

    There are *some* hotels that are generally good. I’ve had luck with the Hyatts and Marriotts, fwiw.

    What the hell. A grace of aging is taking the long view. This too shall pass.

  11. Trine-Maria’s avatar

    Just browsing to find an Amsterdam hotel for the Picnic conference in september – thanks for the warnings :-)

    And I just got back from a trip to Germany – and I can strongly recommend that you go for SAS Radisson if you ever go to Dresden. They had free wifi everywhere and they made no fuss about it and it worked absolutely brilliant – just like the hairdryer – which we also didn’t pay extra for :-)!

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