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Aug. 4th, 2013 01:19 pm (UTC)
Free Wi-fi isn't free, it's an upfront and ongoing cost to the hotels paid for out of the rates they charge guests and others. Vacationers staying at a "free wi-fi" hotel who don't use it much are subsidising the businessman with a VPN running 18 hours a day as they hotdesk in their room, and looking at the comments following that article the business types seem to think they're being hard done by being asked to pay anything at all for this.

The scalable speed/cost offerings mentioned in the article seems to be an attempt to sort that discrepancy out; gobbling down 10Gb of data traffic per 24 hours of room occupancy will cost the hotel more than the retired couple using 20Mb checking Twitter and looking up local restaurants on a ratings site over the same period so it's not unreasonable for them to charge more for a higher level of service, just as they would for in-room meals and other extras.

As for the quality of service situation in hotels, Modern World meet Tragedy of the Commons. There is only so much radio spectrum to go around and more and more of the wi-fi channel allocations are used up in collision detection and packet resend requests. Cellular data is going that way too, of course, it's just less commonly used at the moment. Ten years from now you'll be seeing the same sort of whining about cellular data going on and why isn't it free? Me, I never travel without an Ethernet cable in my bag if I expect to use hotel internet connections. If you dig around you'll often find an RJ-45 jack in the room somewhere.
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