July 9 2012 by Chris McGinnis
Hotel wi-fi has been in the news a lot lately-- for example, a recent and widely read article in USA Today suggested that some of the biggest hotel chains in the US are now considering adding new charges for in-room wi-fi.
But few hotels that have offered wi-fi for free in the past are now charging for it. Instead, they are moving to a tiered offering.
Tiered plans offer wi-fi for free at speeds and bandwidth ample enough for basic functions such as checking email, the weather or posting updates on social media sites like Facebook or Twitter. However, an increasing number of hotels are now charging fees to guests who choose faster wi-fi with bandwidth that is fat and fast enough to upload or download large files (such as photos) or stream movies.
In the past, a hotel may have had to have enough bandwidth to accommodate a handful of guest using their laptops at the hotel each night. But over the last two or three years, an increasing number of business travelers log on to hotel wi-fi from their laptops, their smart phones and their tablets. They are uploading and downloading large photo files , or streaming movies or making video calls from their rooms.
"You used to just have the one business traveler on his laptop, now you've got a family of four and dad's got the computer, mom's got the iPad and both kids have iPhones. So that's four people logged on at once," says Ron Pohl, Best Western's senior vice-president of brand management.
Luckily, Best Western saw the boom in bandwidth usage coming, and in May of this year implemented a chain-wide upgrade to the high-speed internet standards it first set up in 2004. These new standards should improve the wi-fi signal strength in guest rooms, increase upload and download speeds, and improve the overall reliability of hotel wi-fi systems.
And best of all? Faster and more stable wi-fi at all Best Western hotels is still free!
Chris McGinnis is Best Western's travel trends expert and business travel blogger on youmustbetrippin.com