October 2, 2006 7:06 AM PDT

U.K. hotel Wi-Fi rates slammed

Wi-Fi pricing in U.K. hotels has garnered criticism in the latest edition of "The Good Hotel Guide," an annual publication whose recommendations are based entirely on reader input.

The 2007 edition of the guide, which doesn't charge for listings and accepts no advertising, points out that some U.K. hotels charge as much as 5 pounds (about $9.40) an hour despite the relatively low cost of running a Wi-Fi network.

In some cases, the price can be considerably higher: The daily access fee for one Cambridge hotel is listed at 20 pounds ($37.60).

Wi-Fi access increasingly has become free in U.S. hotels, the guide notes, but analyst Ian Fogg, of JupiterResearch, said he believes the comparison is not necessarily accurate.

"When you're rolling out Wi-Fi, it depends on the construction of the hotel, and American buildings are very different," Fogg told ZDNet UK on Monday, adding that it was "not as simple to roll out Wi-Fi access (in a hotel) as many people think--to offer a good signal in every bedroom is very challenging."

Fogg suggested that the first step toward tackling hotel Wi-Fi pricing in the U.K. should be transparency, as it is "not sufficiently clear when booking a hotel what type of broadband is available, what price it is--they normally just say 'Internet available.'"

This problem was particularly prevalent for business travelers who visit multiple locations, as they would have little opportunity to discover hotels with cheap or free Wi-Fi.

Fogg also claimed that hotel Wi-Fi access is perceived as expensive when compared to home or office access but often fared well in relation to the exorbitant roaming rates charged by operators for mobile data services.

He added that a key factor was "whether (Wi-Fi access) remains an additional charge" or gets absorbed into the overall room rate, and he suggested that hotels may increasingly seek to differentiate themselves from the competition by advertising "free" Wi-Fi, as often happens in the United States.

David Meyer of ZDNet UK reported from London.

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14 comments

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European rates very high in general
We found this to be true everywhere in Europe this summer. We
were there a month, in England, France, Spain and Portugal.

And the excuses given in the article are ridiculous.
Posted by Deborah Mitchell (7 comments )
Reply Link Flag
what excuses?
I didn't see the article offer any excuses or reasons whatsoever.
It's a poorly written article that just kinda rambles on about how
the cost is absorbed into the US hotel rates and might be
absorbed later into the UK hotel rates.

Some other things to consider is the economic structure of high
speed access overseas in general. In the US, the telcom
corporations setup the networks and only their customers pay a
price for monthly access based on speed and provider. The
rates are generally determined by competition driven supply &
demand.

In many areas overseas, very very super high speed Internet
access is provided free of charge to the entire population. Who
pays for that? The people through their governments pay for the
networks through various added taxes and subsidies. So now
when an overseas hotel needs to purchase access for
themselves, what's a fair market prices when you don't even
have an open market? With these various economic systems,
you can't fairly or accurately compares their costs to each other.

As far as specific issues in the UK, I couldn't say for sure.
Posted by Sparky672 (244 comments )
Link Flag
Re: European rates very high in general
I would have to agree with you. As much as I like our friends in Europe, there's no excuse for this. It wouldn't stop me from going there for a second, but as you said, the excuses are LAME at best.

Charles R. Whealton
Charles Whealton @ pleasedontspam.com
Posted by chuck_whealton (521 comments )
Link Flag
Portugal is the worst?
In Portugal, a hotel I stayed at had rates of 60 Euros per day. That's $76 USD!!
Posted by Kev50027 (217 comments )
Reply Link Flag
US hotels just as cheap
While most hotels along the interstate have free wifi, I've found that most 'downtown' hotels in big cities still charge $10/day or more for internet access. Thats just being cheap on their part. How can a $90/night La Quinta (great hotels) offer free wifi, but a $250/night Marriot or Hyatt not? I just use my cell phone when in those hotels. I hate being nickeled and dimed at expensive hotels.
Posted by (402 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Hotel Internet Charges
When David Meets Goliath  Hotel Internet Warfare

By

Dick Cornell

Last year, while attending two conferences at Walt Disney World, I, together with 2,000+ others, got hit twice for internet access charges. First it was $9.95 (plus tax) per day in the hotel room and then a second $9.95 per day to connect inside most of the meeting rooms. In addition, our association was charged in excess of $7,000 to bring the internet into a few large rooms. That fee and the coverage paid for did not extend more than a few feet outside into the hallways. It is high time this kind of rip-off stops!

The past

When I was very young, staying in a hotel (later, motels emerged), we had to pay for use of a radio in the room. There was no air conditioning in those days (fans were also extra), and the phone was located in the lobby, not in the rooms.

Some time later the radio in the room was replaced by a one-eyed machine called a television; there was an extra charge for that. At about the same time, some rooms were air conditioned and, for a modest sum, one could get a room that was cool.

The present

Fast forward to 2006 and think about whats in the room today  television, clock radio, air conditioning, ironing board, digital telephone, and in some instances, minibar and refrigerator. All were added, basically at no charge to the guest (except what was consumed from the minibar) and considered as the cost of doing business.

Now we come to internet charges that, we hope fervently, will soon go the way of the dinosaur. It is time the corporate behemoths slapped themselves in the face and said, Ok, ok, well quit bleeding our guests of what rightly is now the cost of doing business!

Yeah, right! Checks in the mail¬! Take a look at the chart; it shows who the Goliaths are and who are the Davids in this scenario. While the data is drawn from hotels in Central Florida (The Worlds Number 1 International Tourist Destination), it could just as easily have been mirrored by locations across America.


Central Florida Hotels per Night Internet Charge Policies
Hotel Chains Charge guest? How much? Internet Charges Meeting Rooms? Consider eliminating charges?
Chain Hotel
Loews
Portifino Bay N
Royal Pacific N
Hard Rock N
Universal Orlando Yes $9.99 Ethernet & 10.99 wireless Y N
Don Caesar Yes $11.00 Y N
Wyndham Many do not. Can join "Wyndom by Request" at no charge and get free internet Wireless offered in many meeting rooms Varies with each hotel
Ramada Ramada Inn International Drive Left up to individual franchise holders Free at Ramada Inn on International Drive Depends on the property and terms of contract Left up to each hotel to determine
Rosen Hotels Yes $9.95 High speed, 412.95 for private network, $4.95 per hour in lobby or convention areas Would contact sales department to determine Spokesperson not aware of any changes in policy
Westgate Timeshare Yes for high speed access, dialup service available if guest has own internet account Owners purchase package if they want high speed internet access N/A No
Peabody Peabody Orlando Yes $8.00 + tax for 24 hour period Contact group sales for answer No
Westin Grand Bohemian Yes Ethernet available in rooms, wireless available via access code for $9.95 between noon ANS 0500 NEXT MORNING Negotiate with sales department and booking and corporate packages possible No
Hyatt Orlando Airport Hyatt Free if guest has own wireless
Hyatt Grand Cypress Yes $10 1 day, $20 3 days, $30 every 5 days. $10 per 15 minutes in Business Center Depends on the property and terms of contract. "Most likely no chare to conference guests No
Marriott Marriott World Center No Some properties might. Contact www.marriott.com for details Depends on what city, state and time of the year. Contact property sales office. No
Fairmont No charge if guest enrolls in Fairmont President's Club Depends on each group's contract Free membership to the Club allows us not to charge.
Hilton Yes Average of $9.95 per 24 hour period in rooms. Meeting host would have to arrange group discount rate through sales department; price varies greatly. Respondent did not know.
Starwood Yes $9.95 average daily charge Yes - negotiated with sales department No aware of any impending changes in policy
Four Points
St. Regis
Westin
Mandarin
W
Sheraton
Six Continents
Intercontinental Yes Call hotel Depends on contract
Crown Plaza Yes Some do not Call hotel Depends on contract
Holiday Inn No Negotiate with sales department and booking and corporate packages possible No changes anticipated
La Quinta No Contact group sales for answer No changes in policy
Best Western No Contact group sales for answer No changes anticipated
Super 8 No Contact group sales for answer No changes anticipated
Walt Disney World Coronado Springs Resort Yes $9.95 for room and $9.95 for wireless in hall way Yes, daily No

Data from the above chart was provided by Megan and Cedar Watson, both of whom are students at the University of Central Floridas Rosen School of Hospitality Management in Orlando, Florida.

We think that is going to change, and soon. Why?

By the end of 2006, the population of the United States will be at 300,000,000 (as of this writing it stands at 295,734,134). According to the most recent figures from the Pew Internet and American Life Project(<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.pewinternet.org" target="_newWindow">http://www.pewinternet.org</a>), there are an estimated 215,885,918 adults in this country that are internet users. Of this group, close to 84,000.000 (or 42%) have broad band access. Every time an American business sends it road warriors out, the chances are good they take their laptops with them and hook them to whatever connections is available in their hotel rooms. They pay the daily fee for internet and charge it to the company.

Then theres the grandparents enroute to see their kids and grandkids, all of whom are increasing computer savvy. Enroute they opt, not for a Hilton, but for a Holiday Inn Express or similar hotel (see above for hotels that do NOT charge). They now get free internet, free breakfast, and all of the amenities commonly found in a five-star hostelry, sans the terrycloth robe and minibar. They are happy.

Communities across the nation are bringing wireless internet access to every corner of their towns and cities, slowly, but more and more a reality. Even ancient monasteries in Spain, now turned into refurbished spas for the mind and body, are including internet access. Planes at 30,000 feet and huge liners have rushed to install internet capability as well. Some charge for the service, some do not.

I call upon the plethora of associations across America to put the pressure on those hotels in the chart who continue to squeeze every last dollar from their guests. Get your conference coordinators to pressure these hotels to relent and provide internet access or forfeit having conferences at their hotels. We realize that conferences increasingly request wireless access in their meetings rooms, and that a reasonable charge is to be expected. Reasonable, however, is the operative descriptor!

If enough associations, corporations, and other entities say no to these Goliaths, they will eventually get the word - change your policies about internet charging or we will charge out your doors!

We can do this America! And kudos to those on the list who do care enough to provide a valued service to their guests.
Posted by (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
math
how is 20 pounds a day higher than 5 pounds an hour?
Posted by mfurdyk (7 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Oh well
Oh well, even less secure then many internet cafe's, but hey I read somewhere, even the redoubtable FBI has now abandoned this form of connection due to basic insecurities inherent with this form of communication!

You pays your money, and takes your choice!
Posted by heystoopid (691 comments )
Reply Link Flag
My London hotel has free wifi...
...and always has, although could use a booster for some rooms. Check it out: Britannia Court Hotel, London UK. But has other funkier issues: old dog in reception, some miniscule bathrooms, no cable, no air-con...but free wi-fi.
Posted by naomivanderwolk (5 comments )
Reply Link Flag
My London hotel has free wifi...
...and always has, although could use a booster for some rooms. Check it out: Britannia Court Hotel, London UK. But has other funkier issues: old dog in reception, some miniscule bathrooms, no cable, no air-con...but free wi-fi.
Posted by naomivanderwolk (5 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Wi Fi rates at hotels in London
My wife and I want to go to Europe this year. We were thinking of spending most of the time in the UK. However, after looking at the other prices, and then seeing the outrageous prices for Wi-Fi in London, we have pretty much decided to spend most if not all of the time on the continent. There's no problem paying a reasonable rate, but you can't tell me that their internet rates are justified. That is just gouging in the worst way.
Posted by Bill_A (13 comments )
Reply Link Flag
 

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