What’s better than free hotel WiFi? Free fast hotel WiFi, of course.
Hotels have mostly gotten the message that free WiFi is a base expectation of today’s travelers. The bad old days of nickel-and-diming hotel guests for checking email or streaming Netflix movies are behind us.
But free WiFi doesn’t always mean free high-speed WiFi. High speed, as in fast enough to download and stream media. Your download speeds may vary, and there’s a widespread lack of transparency regarding those speeds.
What download speed can you expect at your upcoming stay at the Missoula Marriott or the Hillsborough Hilton? You won’t find that information published on the hotels’ websites, and more than likely a call to the hotel won’t yield a satisfactory response either.
Red Roof Inn has taken a welcome step toward bringing some clarity to the question of hotel WiFi performance with its Verified WiFi program, which uses an outside company to check WiFi speeds at Red Roof properties and certifies hotels that “have a good video streaming experience.” That, according to Red Roof, requires download speeds of at least 3 Mbps.
Once a hotel’s WiFi has been confirmed to be streaming-capable, the property will be entitled to display a certified logo on the Red Roof website.
According to the company’s president, “Many guests assume free WiFi means slow WiFi because very few brands and owners have really invested in it and the only time you can get fast WiFi is if you pay for it. Red Roof is going to be honest with you and tell you where our best WiFi is.”
The program is in its early stages, beginning with hotels on the East Coast, and moving to West Coast properties thereafter.
I’d prefer to see the hotels’ actual download speeds publicized, rather than relying on Red Roof’s somewhat vague notion of what does and does not qualify as fast WiFi. Still, this is a positive step in the direction of full transparency, and a move that should be welcomed by travelers. And while not promoted as such, it’s also a smart way for corporate to nudge the independent owners of Red Roof properties to upgrade their WiFi services.
Reader Reality Check
How satisfied have you been with your recent experiences with free hotel WiFi?
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After 20 years working in the travel industry, and 15 years writing about it, Tim Winship knows a thing or two about travel. Follow him on Twitter @twinship.
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