Thursday, January 22, 2015

U.S. hotels lag many countries in Wi-Fi access - report

Connectivity is fundamental in today’s connected society, and many of us have come to take robust connectivity for granted at the office or at home. But as too many of us already know, that service often falls short on the road. Now, a new report identifies the regions where the hotels have the best – and the worst – Wi-Fi.

The report, issued by the company HotelWiFiTest.com, puts figures around both the quantity and quality of hotel Wi-Fi signals.

As our readers know, Internet access is one of the things TheTravelPro measures during hotel stays. My observation has been that download speeds of 1 Mbps are fairly standard for hotels; anything much above that is a pleasant surprise.

HotelWiFiTest, however, sets a higher standard.

In its report issued Jan. 20, the company said, “[A] hotel judged as having adequate [Wi-Fi] must provide an expected download speed of at least 3 Mbps (the Netflix recommendation for SD-quality streaming) and an upload speed of 500 kbps (the Skype recommendation for high-quality non-HD video calling).” The report also looked at the percentage of hotels that offered free Wi-Fi.

The results may surprise you. Or perhaps not.

According to the report, which is available here, the best country for hotel Wi-Fi quality is South Korea. The best city worldwide is Stockholm, Sweden; the best city in the United States is Portland, Ore.

The United States is only in the 21st percentile for hotel Wi-Fi quality, meaning 79 percent of countries have better hotel Wi-Fi quality overall than the U.S. In Europe, it is 33 percent more likely that a hotel will have adequate Wi-Fi than in the United States.

That said, it is 14 percent more likely that a hotel will offer free in-room Wi-Fi in the United States.

The free Wi-Fi percentage is calculated as a ratio of hotels that offer free in-room Wi-Fi to all hotels for which the Wi-Fi price structure and availability is known, the report said.

“In our view, hotel Wi-Fi is a synonym for in-room Wi-Fi; therefore, hotels that offer free Wi-Fi only in public areas are not counted as hotels with free Wi-Fi,” the report continued.

In the U.S., 85 percent of hotels offered free Wi-Fi, but only 35 percent of the Wi-Fi signals met the company’s quality standards. For comparison, 75 percent of European hotels offered free Wi-Fi, and 46 percent of hotel Wi-Fi signals met the quality standards. Figures for Asia closed the gap further, with 61 percent offering free Wi-Fi, and 50 percent of hotel signals achieving quality standards.

“Hotel WiFi Test lets travelers test [Wi-Fi] while they are at a hotel and then provides this crowdsourced data to [other] travelers who want help selecting a hotel that has fast [Wi-Fi],” Yaroslav Goncharov, CEO of Hotel WiFi Test, told TheTravelPro in an email. Travelers go to HotelWiFiTest.com’s home page, identify their hotel, click on a “test” box to check their connection speed, then report their results. There is also a search function that allows visitors to “Find hotels with fast Wi-Fi.”

Business travelers know how important a fast Internet connection is when sending and receiving large files such as lengthy or graphics-heavy presentations. Whether meeting with a client one-on-one or presenting at a conference or other gathering, time is literally money.

As we go father into the 21st century and become even more reliant on fast, dependable and economical connectivity, tools like HotelWiFiTest.com will become ever more valuable.

Visit my main page at TheTravelPro.us for more news, reviews, and personal observations on the world of upmarket travel.

2 comments:

  1. Something we've observed -- albeit unscientifically -- in our travels has been that the more expensive a hotel is, the less likely it is to offer free wi-fi. We have been shocked, in the past, to find that places where we were already paying a fairly high rate would then charge for wi-fi access. On the other hand, smaller, less expensive places and B&Bs offer it free. In a bizarre sort of way, operators both types of accommodation -- high-end and the smaller or mom-and-pop locations -- recognize the value of wi-fi access. The policy can vary within the same chain: at the Adina Hotel on Queen Street in Melbourne, we had to pay for wi-fi; at its stablemate in Sydney/Darling Harbour, it was free.

    But there's another catch, here: the amount of data you're allowed per day. In one hotel, we were allowed 400 mb ... another, only 100mb .... so you need to be aware of that limitation, too.

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  2. Interesting, isn't it? It's rather like the days when most hotels charged for phone calls made from the room. Along comes humble Motel 6, which offered free local phone calls, and the obvious question followed: Why can the budget chains offer free calls while the higher-end hotels charge? Just substitute "Wi-Fi" for "phone calls" to update to the 21st century!

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