WiFi hotspot services in airports: Totally fracking rubbish

I’ve been doing a bit of travel recently and that’s exposed me to the utter shit that is a modern WiFi hotspot. I don’t remember them being this bad.

Every single one I’ve used recently has been a pile of stinking shite. I’ve ended up using my BlackBerry’s EDGE connection rather than dick about with my iPhones clunking away on these hotspots.

The signal strength is invariably strong — it’s the data throughput that I can only compare to surfing the internet on a Compaq iPaq connected via infrared to an Ericsson T68i using very early GPRS data.

I did set out to try a speed test on the Boingo Hotspot at Houston Airport earlier today. I didn’t have the ‘Speedtest’ app on the phone and intended downloading it but after about a minute of waiting for the App Store to load, I gave up.

A pants, pants experience.

What is the point?

I suppose I feel good that I’m connected by WiFi because I’m tricked into assuming that this should be heavily superior to anything else, especially the carrier connection.

Increasingly — and I’m generalising I know — hotspots seem to be becoming more of a hindrance than a help.

I’d really like suppliers such as T-Mobile and Boingo to move to properly describing their services in terms of speed.

In the case of the Boingo one I experience, something like “125 bytes per second guaranteed when browsing leading websites” would be appropriate based on my experience today.

It’s not just Boingo though. I’ve had similar issues with T-Mobile as well. BT Openzone in the UK is another shocker too.

What’s to be done? Stick with the mobile operator connection when I’m abroad in the short term I think.

And reset my expectations on WiFi services.

How have you found these services recently? Is it just me?

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.

6 replies on “WiFi hotspot services in airports: Totally fracking rubbish”

As all my flights take me through Helsinki at one point or another I’ve become angry that other airports WiFi networks do not work as well. As far as traffic loading is concerned, well I’ve been sat at my gate for the flight to London, with a flight to Tokyo on one side of me and another to Shanghai on the other and 85% of the people around me seem to be on some sort of device or another and it has always worked very well! I’ve even managed to walk from the centre of the airport next to the security gates all the way to the far end and stream a video while walking.

Ewan, hot-spot problems are persistent throughout the United States.  I am normally sat somewhere waiting indefinitely for a simple page to load.  This location could be a coffee shop, the airport, or any other public hot-spot.  I catch myself looking around to find out who and how many folks are streaming a movie or music whilst I am put on hold for a simple web page to render.  

This has reduced my work at public hot-spots to email and simple web pages only.  For other work, I find myself getting back to the dedicated line at my office…

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