Frequent travelers know what hotel internet connectivity can often be frustrating. But I hit upon a principle, many years ago, that lets us understand the connection between hotel and WiFi.
I called it Alexander’s Iron Law of Hotel Connectivity, and it runs like so: the more expensive the hotel, the more costly and/or lower quality the internet. The reverse is also true: the less expensive the lodging, the cheaper and/or better wireless.
(It’s an iron law because it’s nearly always right. So far.)
Extensive experience has borne this out throughout the United States. Wherever I go, I know that high-end chains and pricey conference venues will offer me a lame internet experience. For connectivity I prefer the low-rent hotels.
Now some recent research confirms my Iron Law. The Hotel WiFi Test site (of course there’s one) gathered data on a bunch of hotels. Their conclusion?
Want cheaper and faster WiFi? Skip the Marriott – Get Connected at Quality Inn
In one of the cheapest hotel chains, Quality, WiFi is usually free and demonstrated the fastest WiFi speed of the evaluated hotel chains. In contrast, a much more “upscale” chain, Marriott Hotels and Resorts, offers free WiFi at a very limited number of properties. Since the typical room price is much higher at Marriot and WiFi costs extra, most people would expect lightning-fast speeds for their WiFi connection. Unfortunately, this is not the case…
There’s even a graph:
Comments here offer plentiful confirmation.
I first noticed this around 2001, and it’s stayed constant ever since. So how much longer will this go on?
If hotels are satisfied with the arrangement, and don’t see customers defecting because of it, the Iron Law (TM) should last for a while. It seems that expensive hotels are happy to charge business travelers for their usually piddly wifi, and aren’t interested in problems that occur. Meanwhile low-end hotels enjoy the custom.
Will any hotels change their strategy, as more people spend more of their lives online? Or will they assume instead that users, even American ones, will gradually migrate digital demands to phones, which they don’t need to support?
Or perhaps hotels will follow the airline business model and expand their first class style of internet support, charging a bunch for actually good connectivity. The rest of us will get online by coach, jittering and lagging all the way.
In the meantime, when you travel in the US, apply my Iron Law and see how it works.
(Thanks to Clyde for the link. Thanks to CogDog for the photo; I can’t find the original on Flickr, but it’s close to this one)