Free internet and new Wi-Fi technology

The New York Times reports on the tussle between proponents of free versus paid Wi-Fi in hotels and other commercial and public places noting that it “is starting to look like a draw. Or more accurately, a third variation is winning — a combination of the two”.

Select service hotels around the country – though not overseas – have, for years, offered Wi-Fi as a free amenity but oddly, if predictably, the more upscale brands continue to charge customers for internet use whether via Wi-Fi or ethernet cable. The Times reports on an explanation for that divergence from a Marriott spokesman who says that “When you’re talking about a 1,000- or 1,500-room hotel, there are many more complications involved. The infrastructure is more expensive to install and more expensive to maintain.” But with the advent of new Wi-Fi technology (wi-fi, 802.11n draft 2.0) and a decline in new equipment prices, it should be easier to handle large buildings as well and, perhaps, enable larger hotels to offer what is viewed by most lodging customers as just as necessary as bath towels or TV service, neither of which has a special charge. In the interim, customers who want to know what locations – including hotels – offer free Wi-Fi sites such as WiFifreespot.com give a listing by state they can go to.

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Vijay Dandapani

Co-founder and president of a New York based hotel company for 24 years. Grew the firm to five hotels in Manhattan and also developed a greenfield project at MacArthur airport, New York. Speaker at numerous prestigious forums including Economy Hotels World Asia, Lodging Conference, NYU, Columbia University Real Estate Roundtable, Baruch College's Zicklin School and ALIS. President and ceo of New York City Hotel Association since January 2017.

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