Internet speed expectations…

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We all live on the internet now, be it for email, Facebook, Twitter, or whatever, it is now almost as important as food and water to some people!

So when you go somewhere different, the speed or accessibility of internet access is an issue. I certainly have got to know over the years where the ‘dead spots’ are on the Vodafone network – sadly far to large and numerous in my experience! We have recently moved to EE at work so it will be interesting to see how this compares – I have high hopes!

IMG_2784Part of the reason for the move was to get the higher 4G speeds, and I have certainly seen 50mb download speeds since the move which is pretty impressive by anyones standards.

So, if the mobile networks can provide this for us on average for £10 a month (excluding the handset cost), why is paid wireless in most hotels etc so incredibly poor, and expensive?

This week I have stayed in a Premier Inn, the cost of wifi for 24 hours was £3 – not a lot on the face of it – but see the speed test screen shot, I wasn’t getting much for my £3! Surely it is possible to give a decent connection speed? At home I have 152mb download speeds through Virgin Media – I will let you do the maths as to how much quicker that is…..

My experience of wifi in the USA and even in Europe has always been good, why can’t we sort this out? The only place I have had really good wifi speeds in the UK is on the London underground platforms – and that is provided by Virgin (there is a theme developing here).

We need hotels and pubs to realise that simply ‘providing wifi’ isn’t enough – it has to be useable!

Offering an unusable service

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I am a big fan of free WIFI, it is something that is becoming increasingly common (especially in the USA) and is slowly appearing in UK shops and restaurants. However there a certain environments where a charge is still made – basically if you are ‘captive’. An example of this is when on a train, in this example an East Midlands train from London to Nottingham.

The mobile phone signal on this rail line is legendary for it poor signal which drops out or is very slow in many areas. So a wireless connection would be an excellent idea, and one that the operator has embraced. As expected it is a charged for service unless you are travelling in First Class…..

I haven’t tried it previously as I normally travel ‘coach’ but this last weekend I travelled First for the slow journey back from London – I was looking forwards to the free wifi to help pass the time and get some work done.

But once I logged on the novelty was short lived – the speed was no better than a GPRS connection on a mobile phone (and that is prehistoric in terms of speed). But even worse was that it didn’t even show any connection much of the time. So as usual I tethered my iPad to my iPhone and used that connection, not ideal and it dropped out regularly – but at least it worked.

If I had paid for the wifi however I would not have been impressed, it may only be a few quid for 3 hours, but it is the principle. If you are going to offer a service it should at least work, and this just doesn’t. So perhaps instead of offering free breakfast on morning trains to first class passengers East Midland Trains aught to perhaps look at providing a wifi service that actually works?