The Geek’s Lament
Posted on October 2, 2005 Posted by John Scalzi 7 Comments
I’m having a perfectly wonderful time here at the GLBA, but there’s one fly in the proverbial ointment, which is that the hotel’s in-room Internet service well and truly sucks. For the first half of the stay it was non-existent, thanks to a downed router or something, and since then, the best word for it is intermittent — which is to say that for thirty seconds it works fine, and then for the next five minutes it doesn’t work at all, and then you get another thirty seconds where it does work, sort of, if you consider sub-9600-baud-like speed "working," which I pretty much don’t. At that speed you learn that every site on the Web that features ads loads the ads before they load the actual content you want to see, and very few things are more annoying than watching ads load before actual content. I suppose these sites have to pay the bills. Even so.
This intermittentcy also makes it very difficult to upload pictures or update sites: I’ve had to basically abandon doing my AOL Journal for the weekend mostly because I can’t keep AOL connected, and since the entire client (including the web page one is composing an entry on) collapses when a connection is cut, this makes one eventually want to murder whoever it is that is claiming to do tech support for this hotel. Part of my brain is thinking The Comfort Inn can keep its high-speed internet connection going — why can’t these jokers? On the other hand it doesn’t appear I’ve actually been charged for the Internet connection, so I guess I can’t complain too much.
Still, it highlights for me the fact that at this point in time, a working Internet connection really is a non-negotiable for me in terms of where I stay during a trip; if I had to choose between a basic hotel with an Internet connection and a better hotel without one, I’d go for the basic hotel, on the grounds that a hotel without Internet is not a "better" one for me, period, end of story.
On my to do list for today: Sign books for booksellers, grin and schmooze, and then hop in the car and get on back home, where wife, child and a reliable Internet connection wait for me — all treasured, although to be entirely honest the reliable Internet connection is treasured significantly less than the first two. As it should be.
Even worse is when your fancy hotel charges you $15 a day for the privilege of using its wireless, which is then just as crappy as what you’re dealing with now.
Mom and Pop Econolodges have great, free internet, but the “best” hotels in the world give us this crap, then charge us for the “privilege”?
I’ve often been reduced to connecting my laptop to the hotel phone an paying 99 cents to make a toll-free call to my home DSL provider’s backup dialup service, which then charges me an additional $5 an hour. But this is still more reliable and generally ends up being cheaper than paying $15 a day for wi-fi.
For a second there I was thinking “What’s John doing at the Gay Lesbian and Bisexual Alliance convention?”
Then I looked down a post… Ahhhhhh…
It’s actually kind of amazing how important a net connection is to some people, me among them. You’re part of a growing subclass that can exist almost completely on the net. It’s an interesting phenomenon.
Its well known that the quality of Internet service is inversely proportion to the room rate (including any Internet Svc charges).
My theory is that the expensive hotels jumped on the in-room internet service bandwagon very quickly and are now left with a very expensive, crappy, infrastructure. Whereas a lot of cheaper hotels waited until things like WiFi became commodity items which lets them throw up lots of coverage on the cheap since you don’t have a lot of structured wiring (If they were feeling especially tricksy they’d run mini hotspots in the room phone, but it depends on how much free bandwidth they have in the phoneline). It also doesn’t help that there’s basically one company that did a lot of those build outs (the same folks responsible for the craptastic ‘smart’ TV service you get in most hotels)
Since we’re on the subject of craptacular high-speed Internet connections: I stayed at a Woodfin Suites in suburban Washington, DC (a business hotel). Not only did they still charge for their high-speed connection (that I don’t mind, but wish they’d enter the 21st Century), but they put the Ethernet plug (no port, just a six-foot cable) in the bedroom of this suite! Nowhere near the working desk, nowhere near the main room. I mentioned that at the front desk at checkout, and got a look as if to say, “You ain’t the first one to complain about this, buster.”
On an semi-related topic: John, why haven’t you named the hotel in question?
“John, why haven’t you named the hotel in question?”
No particular reason. It was the Crown Plaza in Rosemont.
I was at a conference last week at a high end hotel and had the same problem. I blamed it on my older wireless card (and that maybe have been part of the issue). The connection worked really well in the conference room areas, on the lowest level of the hotel, but upstairs in our room on the 5th floor, no dice. I actually opted to dial up one night with AOL using the in-room dataport — pathetic, but true. For a $130 refundable security deposit and a nonrefundable $15.95 fee, I could’ve used the hotel’s “wireless connection kit”. No, thanks.