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