Land of the Free (Wi-fi)

There are probably hotels in Australia that offer free wireless broadband to their customers. If so, I’ve never stayed in one. By contrast, I haven’t been able to find a hotel in the US that doesn’t offer wi-fi. Even the cheapest, dodgiest place seems to have a network. Occasionally, it doesn’t cover all the rooms, at which point the front desk will apologise and point out that there’s an ethernet cable in the corner of your room. Charging for wi-fi in American hotels today seems as rare as charging for hot water.

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16 Responses to Land of the Free (Wi-fi)

  1. Andrew says:

    It’s amazing isn’t it. It’s so frustrating here in Oz not being able to get wi-fi in those situations. Not to mention the coffee shops etc, that also usually offer either Optus or Telstra hotspots that again, you have to pay for. Frustrating!

  2. My daughter in Taiwan hasn’t got the net connected to her latest flat because “all” the nearby (nearby means within 500 metres) cafes have FREE high speed wifi broadband and she never cooks or eats at home. She just takes her Mac lappy to breakfast, lunch, night meal whatever.

    Here, even recently, I’ve been to workplaces where I had to search for a desk with a USB port.

  3. Alex Makin says:

    Wi-Fi is still considered far too much as a novelty in Australia. Given the rise of ‘new urbanism’ and the trend towards urban revitalisation I am surprised that wi-fi does not feature strongly in urban renewal.

    Wi-fi has the potential to form a major attractor in urban renewal projects. For example wi-fi access on the train network would be entirely feasible and this could work seamlessly with major commercial districts.

    In Melbourne under the current planning framework, certain suburbs are defined as a ‘transit city’. Given the desire to transform these suburbs into mixed use (housing, commercial, recreation) destinations wi-fi would complement and enhance such destinations.

    Alex Makin

  4. Michael says:

    Sure almost all North Amerikan hotels have wifi, but the pricier hotels [Hilton, Doubletree etc] charge for it, usually around $10 a day. Seems an interesting segmentation of the market, free for the road warriors but chargeable for those who can afford the luxury, or who are on holiday.

  5. Peter says:

    Charging for wifi access means that access can be limited to those with passwords and hence adds some security. If you’ve paid to use the Hilton Hotel’s wifi, for example, you can be sure that the others there have also paid, and so are less likely to be eavesdropping on your e-conversations.

    In any case, almost no one in a luxury hotel would be paying him or herself. Even the idle rich would be charging the cost to a trust fund or company.

  6. Andrew Leigh says:

    Michael/Peter, I’m in a pretty swanky hotel now (staying here because it’s the conference hotel), and wireless is still free. I think that old norm may be changing.

  7. Norma Roberts says:

    Hi Andrew,
    I’m a geriatric granny who visits Australia each year from the UK and brings a laptop which runs on Windows 98. Because it doesn’t have an ethernet socket, it’s becoming more and more difficult to find an outlet which will allow me to use a dial-up connection (I do have an Oz ISP) so I’ve recently had a PC card installed which should give me WiFi access.
    The big problem is where am I going to find outlets to use it? I was under the impression that McDonalds was a useful source but can’t get any further information.
    Any help you can offer will be most gratefully received!
    Thanks, Norma, Preston UK

  8. Yobbo says:

    This is simply a manifestation of the poor service quality that is evident throughout the Australian hospitality industry.

    It costs $100 and about 30 minutes of work to set up a WIFI network big enough to cover most small-medium sized hotels, but most Australian operators can’t be bothered, just like they can’t be bothered serving food or drinks without attitude, or saying thank you.

    Australia’s service industry is the worst in the developed world, and the WIFI thing is just another example of it.

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  11. Giri Fox says:

    I have been trying to convince my local favourite Cafe to install a fee wifi network. They’re sadly not interested. It’s not like it’s hard to do, nor expensive. I even offered to set it up for them. Frustrating!

    McDonalds, Starbucks and Gloria Jeans have commercial pay-per-hour wireless.

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