Saturday, October 06, 2012

Staying connected

I just read of a user's experience using the internet in a San Francisco Hotel. She said that the hotel charged for internet use by the IP of the device. So if you used all 3 of your mobile devices, say an iPhone, an iPad and your MacBook, you end up paying internet access for all 3 devices. If the charge is $15 per IP, that's going to be $45 if you switch on all 3 devices' wifi. That's expensive and, as the user wrote, ignores the reality of today's pervasive use of mobile technologies.

At the Novotel Platinum Bangkok where I stayed last week, each room was given an internet access account and password. Each occupant in the room could use the same account concurrently up to a maximum of 2 devices each. So each one could log in to the internet access on his PC Notebook and smartphone, or any combination of whatever mobile device you have. If you attempt to use that same account on more devices, you will be denied. The good thing is that it informs you that you have exceeded the number of connections allowed and to switch off the connection that another device might still have connected to the IP that you are not using. No additional charges, just a friendly reminder, which is better than what the user in the San Francisco Hotel got. That said, sometimes the system miscounts the connections, so you would want to shut down the device instead of just switching off the wifi. I had this problem one evening - denied access because too many devices were already connected. This in spite of my turning off the wifi on all my devices and then reconnecting with just one of them. I was too tired that evening anyway, so I left it alone and went to bed, believing that the problem will sort itself out in the morning.  And it did.

This is not a perfect system, but I think a fair one. I would have preferred a wired connection in the room, for the speed. But hotels would realise that guests can use a mifi device and begin gobbling up bandwidth. Technology has certainly become  more complex since I last travel overseas 2 years ago. If you are going to be dependent on internet access when you travel, it is a good idea to understand how the hotel makes available its internet access, free or paid.

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