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Thanks but no thanks to LodgeNet’s shitty internet connection

I’m leaving San Francisco shortly to return to the delights of ridiculously fast internet in London.

You’d think that the City By The Bay — the biggest city in Silicon Valley — would have uber fast internet everywhere.

Unfortunately not. Not in the sodding Radisson at Fisherman’s Wharf. Don’t ever stay here if you’re wanting to use the shit slow internet.

I think I could probably run to the Google servers, somewhere in Mountain View and type in the search query and RUN back QUICKER than I could using LodgeNet‘s StayOnline complimentary rubbish wifi.

I phoned their chaps yesterday and was assigned a ‘case’. Chap said he’d phone back with a resolution. 24 hours ago. Useless donkey speeds. Next.

So thank you but no thanks to Steve Berry, Ron Peterson, Larry Birnbaum, Mike Henderson, Sherry Mccaniess and Gwen Boyd, the Atlanta-based Executive Management team who, it seems, aren’t doing much in the way of executive managing at the moment.

Based on my experience, which I most sincerely hope isn’t repeated at other establishments offering StayOnline HighSnooze Speed Internet, the management team is professionally rubbish.

You’d think there’d be some sort of network quality check?

“Let me. Er. Let me… I’ll just… Er, Let me try and … OK…” says the support chap on the other end of the phone.

“Could you just reboot it. Or something? You know, make it quicker?” I ask.

“Let me… Er…. I’m just waiting.. er,” he never did, find ‘it’. He’s probably having the same trouble I am trying to connect to the box here.

They must have installed the cheapest connection — some 256k connection — into this place to get it to run this slow. Or the entire hotel and everyone in the North Beach area is using the connection.

I’ve tested with four different devices since Saturday to make sure I’m not seeing things, or getting bum results. Both the MacBook Pro, MacBook Air and an array of iPhones and other wifi capable devices find it ridiculously slow.

I did try and go to Starbucks to get a proper connection. Unfortunately it closed in the early evening. The staff began banging stuff together ‘washing up’ and putting away stuff after 7pm. That gave me the hint. I considered, for a moment, sitting with the Air, outside the store for little while. Stupid, though. So I came back to the hotel and spent the evening on snoozespeed.

I think it’s good for the character, to have a shit internet connection. It helps you appreciate:

– that there’s more to life than fast internet (Pffff, I’m not so sure)
– that the people are LodgeNet / StayOnline really don’t care much. It’s ‘complimentary’ meaning Radisson probably pay a fixed fee per month. Why bother getting out of bed for that kind of arrangement?
– that it’s really very difficult to work with a ‘cloud computing’ environment at 5k/sec throughput.

Next.

By Ewan

Ewan is Founder and Editor of Mobile Industry Review. He writes about a wide variety of industry issues and is usually active on Twitter most days. You can read more about him or reach him with these details.

7 replies on “Thanks but no thanks to LodgeNet’s shitty internet connection”

Lodgenet is arse. Pretty much all hotel Internet is arse. Cheap hotels actually seem to have better Internet than the expensive places, and it’s usually free. EVDO is usually a Godsend when the hotel Internet is pokey.

PhoneBoy’s last blog post..I

There is a programme on BBC World at the moment which I keep seeing adverts for but never get round to watching. It is all about how America is falling hugely behind in being able to provide everybody with half decent internet speeds, there just isn’t the capacity apparently.

Madness! I practically lived in a Radisson for a year (project, sway from home) a while back and their free WiFi was brilliant (and quick) – similarly the Brussels EU one is very slick. I thought that showed the chain understood it’s as important as power sockets and coffee to business travellers…

I can only snicker with amusement as I read the comments above. I am in the industry and all too familair with this scenario. This chap describes his Internet connectivity experience in an entertaining way. He should have, perhaps, stopped when he leaped from description to analysis.

Here are the facts. This network was installed a few years back using 802.11b Cisco radios with advertised speeds of 11mbs (actually moves data at about half that speed). Propagation of wireless signal is adequate througout all of the guestrooms by most standards. Each radio ties to Cisco switches via Cat5. Switches tie back to the headend server that throttles each user to a maximum of 256k (can be set at any threshold). This is a network, Mate. This is what StayOnline installed and supports.

The network connects to the Internet via a T-1 circuit (1.54mbs). StayOnline does not supply the T-1.

Simple math suggests that 6 users at 256K will consume the entire T-1. On any given night 50 to 100 users are competing for bandwidth. This is the real problem here.

Regarding Call Center support services . . . give the Bloke a break. It sounds like he was expected to spit out the answer, and quickly. Relax and consider his plight however. The network and circuit are known components in the connection chain. The laptop, operating system, and unique configuation of each guest is not. It doesn’t sound like the English Chap gave him any time to actually help. This is not an ice cream shop!

The Internet at this hotel is free to guests. The bandwidth needs to be increased substantially to feed this country’s ever increasing hunger for speed, especially at hotels in the SF area. Extra expense for ever increasing ciruit availablility reduces the hotels operating margin. Perhaps they should charge in increase the ciruit capacity.

In Europe, a standard cellular platform (GSM flavor) provides adequate speeds to accomplsh many of today’s not too demanding connectivity requirements. Use of this network takes a lot of traffic off of the hotel network, thus increasing the amount of bandwidth available for the few users connecting via local circuit.

Cheers and Hurry Back!

That above explanation by what could equally be the call-centre chap himself, dripping with irony and abuse still doesnt explain why america, the self-proclaimed leader in many areas, is lagging faaar behind of Europe in terms of internet connectivity, speed as well as mobile. I remember the fact that you guys have not even had GSM for that many years, so lets not start to talk about a developed network to balance the load yet.

@ Former Engineer: OK, so that’s the detail of the installation, but the throttling is the supplier’s choice, as is the uplink speed. 6 people won’t consume a T1 – for a mixed use environment like a hotel or domestic setting contention rations of 20:1 are usual, 50:1 for the less generous. The WiFi connection is free at the point of use, but guests are paying to stay so it should be of a usable standard – just like all the other services.

…and I don’t buy your comment about 3G data cards taking the load off WiFI hotspots… It may be starting to do that, but plenty of hotels were supplying fast and usable WiFi years before these were widely available and affordable.

Unless SF is the most bandwidth-starved place in the world your comments just don’t stand up. If I can get usable speeds in a hotel at the top of the Alps there’s no excuse….

Thanks for your comments. You both (last two posts) missed the detail in my initial response. No hotel network provider can prescribe/demand the amount of bandwidth that a hotel is willing to purchase. Some may supply, but the hotel pays for the circuit in all scenarios in the US. A T-1 costs about $425 per month. My advice to the hotel? Buy more bandwidth and let the provider increase the throttling limits. Even 256k is painful to use (thats if the circuit is not already tapped out by other guests in the hotel). Unfortunatelty, I am not the owner of the hotel (or many more in the US just like it). Bandwidth consumption continues to increase by the month, yet hotels refuse to recognize this with their wallets.

Regarding bandwidth availability, no doubt that StayOnline would benefit from a DS3 curcuit and procurement of a circuit of this size is no problem most anywhere in the US. Cost is the issue here, especially in the hotel market. Beyond the impressive facade at even the most luxurious hotels lies very tight spending practices. Internet access is just a check-box amenity to be cost managed, just like any other available service as most hotels see it. This service is not fully appreciated for its importance to guests, apparently.

My message is don’t blame the plumber, the pipes are big enough inside of the hotel (arguably) but if the curcuit is yet a fraction of the size then very little will flow!

As I understand it, EU hotels generally charge for access (in some cases by the minute) and the provider has control of the circuit as part of the total delivery. This is done by revenue sharing agreements where the provider manages all of the business and service arrangements, and then shares portion of the proceeds with the hotel. In the US, it used to be this way until hotel owners started to see profits associated with this model as the number of users increased Now we are just plumbers.

And Cardarn. “dripping with irony and abuse”? What about calling the plumber “shitty”? Is this not abuse? But where an American soundly corrrects the dimly informed observations of an Englishman, is it abuse? Please. Get the story correct before you post. Oh, and enjoy your soon to be available in the EU iPhone. I have been enjoying mine for nearly a year now.

Cheers

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