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I'm on the road a lot for work. I tend to end up staying at a lot of budget chain hotels that offer free wi-fi. So far so good. But sadly, not all wi-fi is created equal. The past few weeks I've been subjected to a particularly shameful string of terrible connections, and I've decided to try to take matters into my own hands and research the speed/quality of a given hotels connection ahead of time...

... only to find that there is absolutely nowhere on the internet that this is discussed at all. I would think that, by now, some enterprising traveller would have created a listing of some sort, which, even if not comprehensive, could be a start. But I'm coming up completely cold.

And so I turn to you Travel.SE: Does this exist? If not, do I have any other options for researching the quality of any given hotels internet other than trying to skim 200 tripadvisor reviews, most of which are probably faked?

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Maybe this is a new business idea. A review portal just for internet connections. –  RoflcoptrException Aug 30 '11 at 7:10
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@Roflcoptr if I had the skills, I'd be hacking up something to let people post a Hotel Address and a Speedtest link with a comment which spat them out on top of a google map right now. There's money there I'd wager. –  LessPop_MoreFizz Aug 30 '11 at 7:36
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That's really a good idea, and not too difficult to implement. I'll think about it ;) –  RoflcoptrException Aug 30 '11 at 7:50
    
@Roflcoptr - how's that going? ;) –  Mark Mayo Mar 4 '12 at 22:25
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Nothing new ;) I need to think about it again ;) –  RoflcoptrException Mar 4 '12 at 22:55

5 Answers 5

The biggest problem with hotel wi-fi (and conference centre wi-fi) is us. Travelling nerds who need 2 or 3 IP addresses each (and try to do their work each evening while regular people are watching TV) typically bring these systems to their knees. I've had so many hotel people tell me they never get complaints like these the rest of the year, and I actually believe them. Therefore, the system would probably report the wifi was fine most of the time. But when you need to download that video while uploading the new giant PowerPoint, all while your email comes in and you sync with source control, you would declare it horrible. And it's worse when 75% of the rooms in the hotel contain people who are doing the very same thing, but the system is sized for 10% of the people checking email and looking at pictures of their grandchildren.

I think your best bet is a plan B. Those USB-stick thingies are going to be mine. I have also left the hotel and gone to Starbucks. Sometimes when the conference centre sucked I went back to the hotel, and once when the hotel sucked I went back to the conference centre. On that occasion the hotel wifi just plain sucked - I couldn't even read email or load web pages. But perhaps it would have been ok during a less nerdy week.

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Travelling nerd points out you don't need 2-3 IP addresses when doing multiple tasks over a Net connection. :) –  Ankur Banerjee Aug 30 '11 at 13:56
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After all, memory is RAM. :D –  Ankur Banerjee Aug 30 '11 at 14:06
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@ankur: Sure I do if one of them is for Netflix on a mobile device and another is for my laptop pulling down a few hundred MB of work data at a time... –  LessPop_MoreFizz Aug 30 '11 at 14:50
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yes, multiple IPs meaning one for your laptop, one for your phone when its on the wifi, one for your iPad so you can stream some movies... and some folks have multiple laptops and multiple phones if there are two or three people sharing the room. –  Kate Gregory Aug 30 '11 at 15:52

One trick is to look up the place on Foursquare - if people have checked in on wifi, it's a sign there's likely free internet, and often if the connection is poor, people comment on that on foursquare as well.

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Eh, it's easy enough to find out if there's free internet. That's not the issue. The issue is getting there and firing up SpeedTest.Net and seeing .4 down and .25 up. –  LessPop_MoreFizz Aug 30 '11 at 0:40
    
thus the second part of my statement. But sure, it's only going to be subjective, unfortunately :( –  Mark Mayo Aug 30 '11 at 0:48
    
I do like to leave comments on foursquare or other reviews about wifi connections. It's a good lead but one that'll work mostly in Western countries only, I think. –  Ankur Banerjee Aug 30 '11 at 8:54
    
I only mentioned it because I used it to find out whether or not Astana airport in Kazakhstan had wifi: travel.stackexchange.com/questions/1304/… :D –  Mark Mayo Aug 30 '11 at 11:16

You might be able to try asking questions each time here with a shortlist of the places you have in mind.

I assume you are already reading the reviews on HostelWorld, HostelBookers, and TripAdvisor? They won't necessarily cover the net connections in the places but they might.

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Not looking at Hostels, so it's really just TripAdvisor. Which I'm using, but the average review quality is... low. And most are impressed that there even is internet and don't really need it to have any sort of speed. I kind of do. :/ To say nothing of this, though any other resource is just as gamable I'd imagine. –  LessPop_MoreFizz Aug 30 '11 at 1:57
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Funny I thought I put it in this answer but it must've been another - in certain parts of world hotels also list themselves on the Hostel booking sites. It can actually be annoying when you specifically want a hostel. I'm in Bulgaria now and I just checked in to something that calls itself a guesthouse but I would call a cheap hotel but I find it on both hostel sites. So far every place I've stayed in Romania and Bulgaria has faster internet than I have at home no matter how cheap the accommodation is so decent internet is much more common than it once was. –  hippietrail Aug 30 '11 at 8:12
    

Are you only talking about hotels in your own country, or do you also visit other countries frequently on your trip?

In New Zealand the WiFi/Broadband connections in hotels are either non-existent, not included (some charge you an extra $25/day for wifi!) or terrible slow; that's why i carry my own 3G modem stick whenever i leave my house. Faster and cheaper in most cases, plus i wont have to fiddle with my computers network settings each time i set up camp somewhere.

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Most of my travel is domestic US. It's easy enough to find a hotel that provides wifi. What's hard is finding one where it isn't terrible. –  LessPop_MoreFizz Aug 30 '11 at 2:36

The site http://www.hotelwifitest.com/ aims to do this sort of thing; I don't know how good it is.

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