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iPads (and Other Tablets) are Killing Free Hotel Wi-Fi

In our digital age, going without Internet is like going without air. And you wouldn't want to do business or vacation anywhere without air, right? That's the new challenge for hotels, who recognize that serving Wi-Fi is major feature – perhaps even the most important amenity.

The new problem for many hotels is that more people than ever are using that Wi-Fi, partially thanks to the iPad and other tablets. The New York Times spoke with David W. Garrison, the chief executive of iBAHN, a provider of systems for the hotel and meetings industries, who said that the iPad consumes four times as much data as does the average smartphone. This leads to a strain on hotel networks never before felt.

"The iPad is the fastest-selling device in consumer electronics history, and because of it the demand placed on any public place Wi-Fi system has gone up exponentially in the last year and a half," said Garrison.

Garrison believes that the iPad is the "final nail in the coffin" for totally free Wi-Fi services, and that the hotels that are still offering free Wi-Fi are now considering a tiered service.

"It’s about managing that bandwidth," Garrison added. "We’re not saying that free Internet as you know it today is dead. We’re saying that a hotel owner will have to decide what free should be. I could have a free option, for a limited level of service, but charge for higher levels of demand."

Tablet user image from Shutterstock

  • The iPad is the issue here? Really?

    I managed a large Canadian hotel chains free WiFi service for a number of years and the issue has nothing to do with what devices are being used. The issue that most hotels chains buy the cheapest, slowest 'high speed' connection available and think 1.5mbps will suffice for 300+ users and refuse to upgrade to something faster.
    Reply
  • joytech22
    Well instead of limiting data, they could shape speeds..
    I mean data is no issue, it's not like they are on 500GB plans or anything for the entire building.

    Shape the speeds to like 100-200kb/s or something per device. They do the same at my college and I think that holds more people than most hotels.
    Reply
  • nebun
    these so called hotels need to stop being cheap and upgrade their hardware and bandwidth...room rentals are way to expensive anyway.....wait isn't there a thing called LTE...whe on earth would you want to connect to wifi? my LTE Rezhound constantly gets over 16MBs....show me a free wifi that can even get 1MBs
    Reply
  • nebun
    joytech22Well instead of limiting data, they could shape speeds..I mean data is no issue, it's not like they are on 500GB plans or anything for the entire building.Shape the speeds to like 100-200kb/s or something per device. They do the same at my college and I think that holds more people than most hotels.really 100-200kbs???? do you live under a rock?...might just well use dial up
    Reply
  • xx_pemdas_xx
    I think the point of this was that unlimited use wifi is being hogged by Ipad
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  • hokkdawg
    Nothing wrong with a tiered service - just make the prices reasonable! ($20 for a day pass is ridiculous)
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  • cadder
    Free WiFi is an amenity and an essential one for hotels to provide. As such they have to consider that in their pricing just like they do water utility cost and electric utility cost. If they start charging for it, people will go elsewhere. I detest paying for WiFi at hotels because some places where I've had to pay for it, the service has been next to worthless. My iPad is 3G so I would rather pay for a whole month of 3G service at its slower speed than paying per day at a hotel, and if I have a choice of several different hotels, I would never choose the one that didn't offer free WiFi.

    A normal home internet service is something like $60 a month tops, which is $2 a day, and this service can handle at least 3 wireless devices at a time. So if a hotel can't handle $0.66 per day of cost for a room that will rent for $50-200 a night, then they need to be in a different business. If they start charging, and they will probably want to charge $7.95 to 11.95 per day, then the public will run away from them and force them to go into a different business.

    There are isolated markets such as Las Vegas, where all of the hotels charge for WiFi so you just have to pay it. If their market ever declines and a few hotels decide to provide free WiFi then the dam will break and all hotels will have to do it.
    Reply
  • xx_pemdas_xx
    hokkdawgNothing wrong with a tiered service - just make the prices reasonable! ($20 for a day pass is ridiculous)And you can't even game with the 20$ sub!
    Reply
  • Camikazi
    nebunreally 100-200kbs???? do you live under a rock?...might just well use dial upYou realize that 200kb is still about 10 times faster then dial up yes? Dial up might say 56k but you rarely average near that, it's usually much lower.
    Reply
  • AMD X6850
    CamikaziYou realize that 200kb is still about 10 times faster then dial up yes? Dial up might say 56k but you rarely average near that, it's usually much lower.
    56k dial up is about 7kb/s (56k = 56 kiloBITS, not kilobytes).
    So 200kb/s internet is almost 29x faster than 56k dialup.
    Reply