Internet access has become ubiquitous with travel, but in many cases it is still failing to satisfy end users. The Durango Herald looked at how travellers often struggle to find reliable and reasonably priced hot spots to use on their trip.
For many travellers, fast and accessible Wi-Fi has become more important than a hotel’s location, parking facilities and even free breakfast. This was the case for 7 in 10 travellers surveyed for a Research+Data Insights study.
With the majority of business travellers carrying three devices, usually a phone, a tablet and a notebook PC, they are looking to connect wherever they are. Research by high-density Wi-Fi provider, Xirrus, found that 83 per cent of users connect at hotels, 72 per cent at cafés, and 64 per cent at airports.
The connected world
With every traveller wanting to be online, wireless providers are having trouble keeping up with demand. Wi-Fi in the travel sector may have reached a tipping point, where both demand and frustration is causing people to give up on connecting and going online.
The travel industry is trying to keep up with demand by upgrading from 2.4 GHz wireless access points to the speedier 5 GHz standard. But not everyone has made the change and some have done it incorrectly, which only adds to the irritation felt by travellers.
The number of wireless hotspots worldwide is expected to grow to more than 430 million by 2020. This is a sixfold increase, but even at this rate it may not be enough to meet the demand of end users in what has become an "always-on society."
Change on the horizon
For now, travellers can either carry their own wireless hotspot from a network or they can take their chances with the overloaded networks at airports or hotels. But down the road, the industry may develop better standards that offer faster connection speeds.
In the short term, new technologies will help with managing the network load. Hotels and airports are starting to adopt a new standard called Wi-Fi Certified Passpoint to let users just log in once and avoid repeating the lengthy authenticating process for each new Wi-Fi network.
The industry trade group, Wi-Fi Alliance, expects things to further improve as hotels and other hotel destinations refresh their wireless environments. “In 2017, travellers will benefit from more seamless and secure access to Wi-Fi networks, resulting in a better overall experience with Wi-Fi while traveling,” Kevin Robinson, marketing vice president, said.
Time for an upgrade
With today’s travellers demanding continuous connectivity and greater autonomy in anything they do, hotels need to have the right infrastructure in place to deliver these services. A hotel knows it cannot run out of water or bars of soap, towels or other essentials, and nowadays bandwidth falls in the same list of essentials.
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