When “FREE” Isn’t Really Free………
……and you will have FREE internet while staying at the hotel. But is it really free?
Free WiFi has become one of the hottest topics of the day for hotels and their customers. There was a time, when this was an easy source of revenue for the hotel, and in many cases it still is. But now, it seems to be becoming more of a headache than a profit center.
Some hotels still charge a flat rate for in room internet, but be sure you pay attention. Is that cost per device or for up to #X of devices? I have seen everything from $x.xx for up to 2 devices or up to 10 devices. Don’t get caught paying “per device” if you have a laptop, a tablet and a cell phone. $14.95 X 3 devices X a 3 night stay, plus tax…..can add up very quickly
Many hotels are now offering in room internet for “FREE” for their reward club members. Again, read the fine print. Is that for one device or multiple? Do you still need to pay the tax on the value of that perk?
Here is where it gets fun…..that FREE internet connection is for what they are calling a “basic” internet signal. This means you can check your email and maybe post on FaceBook, but don’t expect to be able to upload videos or stream your favorite TV show from your Netflix account. THAT is what they are calling their “enhanced” internet connection and oh yeah…..THAT signal is NOT free……
The biggest battle of the day is taking place between major hotel chains and the FCC. Basically here is what is happening. When a guest is attending a conference at a hotel, they have service for data with their cell phone provider or they have their own personal hot spot. The hotel offers a dedicated broadband in the conference space at the hotel, for a fee. The hotel is blocking your signal so that the only way you can access the internet is by logging on to their signal. If the conference organizers have not purchased internet in the conference space, the attendees will all be in an internet dead zone!
The hotels say this has nothing to do with money and everything to do with internet security and hackers and viruses……etc….Well the FCC did not agree and they imposed a hefty fine on the hotel. The hotel chain was in the process of appealing but has recently withdrawn their appeal. So now what? We wait……as technology becomes more and more important to hotel guests and convention attendees, the cost and security of internet access will become just as important.