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Help: I need a system for rating internet connections in Parisian hotels

Here I am then, typing to you from the 6th Floor of the Pullman Rive Gauche hotel in Paris.

The most distinguishing feature of this hotel for me? Well, it’s opposite the Reed Midem headquarters where I’m doing quite a lot of work for their Connected Connectivity event. It takes about 60 seconds to walk there from the hotel reception, so it’s convenient.

Everything else about the hotel is fine. It’s perfectly satisfactory. The rooms are generally fine. The beds are good, the food in the restaurant is good, the service is prompt.

But the internet connection is utter shit.

Let’s be clear: It’s tripe. It’s bollocks. It’s worse-than-rubbish. It is even slower than a BT ‘Broadband’ connection — and that, dear reader, is saying something.

I do have particular demands I suppose. Peculiar, I suppose. Let me run them by you and then tell me if I’m a total exception. I’d also welcome your recommendations.

I use the internet in real time. I have multiple browser windows live at any one time. Typically speaking there are up to five applications actively ‘doing something’ with the internet. I mean properly doing something (not just passively having-a-look online now and again like DropBox). Uploading video. FTP sessions. SSH/telnet sessions. Spotify. A cornucopia of IM systems. TweetDeck. Sparrow. Firefox background-syncing my email (with attachments). Youtube streaming.

I think ‘live’. I don’t limit myself. I have ideas and thoughts that I let run riot across my mind with the internet dancing along supplying the information at my fingertips. Google’s live results search facility helps that along.

I cannot stand waiting for my computer to do anything. My cardinal rule is to upgrade the moment I start discerning a visible delay in my computer’s ability to process and deliver information to me.

Internet speed plays an integral part in my ability to transact business at lightspeed as apposed to donkey-plodding-slow-speed. I don’t judge ‘speed’ in terms of those speed testing sites. I judge it in terms of an iTunes or Apple Update. Apple are amongst the heaviest investors in connectivity online. There are others, but Apple are particularly attuned to this kind of thing. So provided I’m getting 1-2mb *downloaded* per second (or, at a push, 900k/per second), I’m ok.

And that’s throughput. I don’t care what ‘speed’ the line is running at. 50mb/sec line speed is fracking irrelevant if the Youtube video I want to watch is downloading at 12 kilobytes per second to my machine. I need the basic connectivity to be as good as possible. And ideally I’d like to be a trillion miles away from the fifteen year old with his hacked botnet-controlled machine leeching 99% of the 2mb connection installed by BT to serve the whole town.

So I use Be Unlimited in the United Kingdom. I’ve found them to be pretty sweet.

The problem I have is when I try and adopt the same working methods when I’m abroad.

Hotel internet connections are shit, aren’t they? I can’t avoid the wry smile when I read ‘high-speed internet’ or ‘Free WiFi’ as a key offering of a particular property. We all know it’s nothing but the sort. It’s either free and dog-slow. Or it’s $15 for 24-hours and… dog-slow.

I don’t mind paying. I really don’t. I object to the $15-20 per day mark, especially when I don’t quite know what I’m paying for. I think I could be persuaded to part with a fee around that level if the internet connection was amazingly fast. If the hotel had peered directly with Telecity. If I was connecting into a 255mb direct internet link with next to no other traffic on the circuit.

The Pullman, then, gets some points for offering free WiFi, powered by dog-slow Orange. You get 6-hours free. Then you need to re-connected. Fair enough. It’s still stupidly slow. I can, for example, upload a file at a variable rate of 10-18k per second. I can download at around the same speed.

So email is fine.

Google searching is… well. It takes about 10 seconds for the Google Mail page to actually pre-load and then display. Searching produces results in 3-5 seconds.

I think you’ve got the point.

I have to be in Paris two-days a week for at least another four weeks. The Pullman is opposite the office but it’s internet is simply unworkable for actually doing anything beyond occasional email usage, therefore I need another solution. I know it sounds crazy but it would be worth the taxi fare if I could get 2-hours an evening of proper fast internet connectivity.

So here are my questions to you:

1. Are you aware of any services online that rate hotel internet connections? You know? Fast/slow/stupid? That sort of thing?
2. Do you have any recommendations (or even memories) of good Parisian hotels that also offer phenomenal fixed/WiFi internet connectivity? As long as the hotel is somewhere in the city of Paris I’ll consider it!


  1. I always use Campanile. Definitely not 5 star but I’ve always had reliable Internet, and good value for money.
    Ask Reed to stick a base station to an upstairs windows 🙂

  2. Campanile eh? I’ll see if there’s one reasonably near by Rory.

    As for the base station… it’s the £1.28/meg charges from Three that are holding me back!

  3. hmm, I pay 10 quid a month to Vodafone for 25Mb of EU data per day. Bargain compared to 1.28 a Mb – use at least 10 days a months.

  4. 10 quid a month, 25mb a day – use for my phone and tethering when necessary. I have an unlimited SFR key as a backup for my laptop (25 Euro a month).

  5. Aye the office internet connection is pretty good. This is precisely what we
    need. I think, unfortunately, that the WiFi question will be the problem.
    They’ve got a hidden WiFi network — that’s all. I’m using fixed
    connectivity right now.

    That unit looks really, really smart.

  6. Aha – you plug the office end into their ethernet network. Or, you can put another Airport Express at the office end, connect that to the hidden WiFi network, feed the Nanostation with it from the ethernet port, over the road to you, via a 2nd Express.

    Better to hardwire into their ethernet though. This bestie has excellent non-LOS performance, so should work if it’s in any room facin gthe road. Even right dowen the back. for £300 all-up you can only go wrong 😉

  7. Oh go ON! Try it! Talk to their IT, show them the security features. If they are happy to have WiFi AP’s in the place they should be OK with this – even if you offer to notput an AP at the other end and just use ethernet, so that the onlt wireless is the heavily-encrypted wireless link one.


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