Thursday, May 6, 2010

Travelers Find Hotel Wi-Fi a Necessity

Joe Sharkey channels 2005: This travel column in the New York Times reads a bit odd. Nearly everything in the article, exception the proliferation of mobile devices with Wi-Fi built in, could have been written in 2005, or even earlier.

"The days when business travelers routinely fretted about the availability of Internet connections in hotels are gone, or rapidly fading." That started fading long ago, when most hotels had put in Internet service. Five years ago, the majority of hotels had some form of access, with most of that service in rooms. In the last five years, it's been backfill for the few remaining properties and rooms, with more Wi-Fi than Ethernet in the mix.

Sharkey even uses a term I haven't heard broadly used in years: "Others carry an AirCard, a small modem that can link laptops to the Internet using cellular networks." First, it's a generic, so it shouldn't be capitalized; second, it's a mobile broadband modem, a 3G modem, a USB cell modem, or whatever. Aircard was a mainstream media invented term for something that already had a name.

With more people traveling with 3G modems and devices with 3G access, the odds of needing hotel Wi-Fi is likely declining daily. Hotels have to cope with that loss of revenue, just like they lost long-distance calling and fax revenue over the last 15 years.

The only real news in the column is the increasing shift to free service, driven by a move in the United States (but not internationally) to more no-cost Wi-Fi. Most Wi-Fi hotspots in the US are now free or free-with-purchase (or Starbucks's deal: two hours free with a single purchase on a registered card).

T-Mobile Offers Overage Compromise: ThrottlingBoy George won’t say sorry