What's The Most Expensive WiFi You've Seen?

from the ah,-tethering dept

I do a fair bit of traveling and, while I try to avoid it, there are times when I really have no choice but to pay up for WiFi (and why is it always the expensive hotels that charge more for it, while the cheap hotels offer free WiFi?). At times, the prices seem really crazy, but Parker sends over a screenshot of the cost of WiFi that he discovered at Toronto's International Centre, which seemed a bit extreme: $6.95 for just 30 minutes. Or $99 for a full day. You could get the two day package for a bargain at $159. I'm not sure I want to know what the difference between "Ultra-Lite Wireless" (the prices you see here) and "Extreme Wireless" might be, but it seems doubly ridiculous to think that $99 per day only gets you "ultra-lite" wireless.
Anyway, I don't think I've seen prices like that before, but I'm curious if anyone has any stories that can top that?


Reader Comments (rss)

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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 25th, 2011 @ 7:47pm

    I had no idea...

    that Canadians use Computer-aided design as a monetary system.

     

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      Michael Ho (profile), Oct 25th, 2011 @ 7:53pm

      Re: I had no idea...

      Computer-Aided Design can be easily converted to dollars, too:
      http://www.google.com/search?&q=CAD+to+USD

       

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        ltlw0lf (profile), Oct 27th, 2011 @ 7:55am

        Re: Re: I had no idea...

        Computer-Aided Design

        Heh, I always thought CAD was "Canadian Dinar." I have a bunch of Dinar from several countries, and their money is always labelled like BHD and IQD, so I figured CAD was just another type of Dinar.

        Then again, I got confused when I saw USD. As far as I am aware, the name of money in the US is either "cash" or "plastic", so United States Dinar doesn't seem to work.

         

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      New Mexico Mark, Oct 26th, 2011 @ 4:54am

      Re: I had no idea...

      Actually, "CAD" is an honorific for the person who came up with the idea to charge these prices.

       

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    Jim, Oct 25th, 2011 @ 8:00pm

    Wow.
    Those prices make my wireless carrier's fees for tethering my smartphone look perfectly reasonable.

     

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      S, Oct 26th, 2011 @ 9:07am

      Re:

      Coincidence?

      Probably some very creative astroturfing:

      "If we make all the options look even worse, people won't object to ours!"

       

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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 25th, 2011 @ 8:05pm

    "I'm not sure I want to know what the difference between "Ultra-Lite Wireless" (the prices you see here) and "Extreme Wireless" might be"

    If you act now, you can get half the wireless speed for twice the price!! But you must act soon, offer ends soon.

     

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    Phalamir (profile), Oct 25th, 2011 @ 8:12pm

    Free vs paying

    My running theory is that cheap hotels give free wireless because they see it as a way to attract customers (like advertising HBO). On the other hand, fancy hotels figure that either (a) their customers will consider the price a small part of the total cost of the trip, and/or (b) they are traveling on business and the expense account will cover it

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Oct 25th, 2011 @ 8:24pm

      Re: Free vs paying

      Basically, they know people that stay in expensive hotels have money to spare. And those kinds of people will actually like paying outrages prices, since they think they're getting a great deal.
      Just like the trolls that post here, they believe: Price=value.

       

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        PaulT (profile), Oct 26th, 2011 @ 5:12am

        Re: Re: Free vs paying

        That's one possibility. The other thing that comes to mind is that (in my experience) expensive hotels would mostly be used by people on company-paid business trips, whereas cheaper hotels would be used by travellers or business people paying out of their own pocket. An employee on a business account wants to be comfortable but doesn't necessarily care about the price (and wifi can be counted as a legitimate business expense), whereas someone on a budget or spending their own money would more likely go for the cheaper hotel with no extras costs.

        That is, the expensive hotels don't lose anything by charging a premium for their wifi, while a cheap hotel doing so would just send business down to the hotel offering free wifi down the street.

         

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          Paul Renault (profile), Oct 26th, 2011 @ 6:08am

          Re: Re: Re: Free vs paying

          I have to stay in hotels all the time. For work. Which I can 'expense'.

          And, no, I can't stay at the $300/night hotels, unless there's really no choice.

           

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    Jared, Oct 25th, 2011 @ 8:21pm

     

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      Nicolas, Oct 25th, 2011 @ 8:53pm

      Re:

      I don't buy that guy's explanation for a second. The pricing is explained by the economics of the clientele, not the installation.

       

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      Anonymous Coward, Oct 26th, 2011 @ 4:48am

      Re:

      that really doesn't make sense. it sounds like a lot of money, but all of that would be recouped fairly quickly without such exorbitant fees. i think the most likely explanation is that it goes with demand. it's possible that they don't pay for *that* much bandwidth, so they charge enough that only those that really want to use it, will use it. it keeps demand down. either that, or they just know they can get away with it.

       

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      W Klink (profile), Oct 26th, 2011 @ 7:42am

      Re:

      That explanation is nonsense. McDonalds has two bathrooms (1 for men, 1 for women) for all their guests, while a large hotel has to provide a bathroom for every room (including the costs of plumbing, showers, supplies, and a large dedicated cleaning staff to maintain them). Despite the enormous differences in costs (including on-going costs, not just the initial setup), both businesses don't have a line-item expense for using the bathroom. There are probably still some exceptions in places around the world, but your more likely to find pay toilets in a McDonalds than at an expensive hotel.

      That doesn't mean you don't pay for them (TANSTAAFL), just that they don't have a line item cost associated with their use. And yet, the demand for toilets is pretty inelastic. EVERYONE needs them eventually. So there's no separating consumers that are willing to pay for them from those that aren't, so you simply include it in the price of your goods. That's partly why the $300/night hotel costs $300/night.

      There's no way to say that the COST of WiFi is the reason one charges and the other doesn't. But the demand for WiFi at McDonalds, where you aren't likely (or technically even allowed) to stay for more than an hour, isn't nearly as great as the room you will stay in all night. WiFi can even be seen as a loss leader for McDonalds, where they don't mind losing a little money to get you in the door. It's not a necessity, but if it gets you in the door, it will pay for itself. And, again, it's not really "free," it's included in the cost of the Big Mac.

      Cheap motels will also use free WiFi as a loss leader. Where there's heavy competition and all the rooms are in the $50/night range, free WiFi suddenly becomes a factor in your decision of where to stay.

      At an expensive hotel, however, they're competing on a lot more than the WiFi. Nicer rooms, the restaurants in the hotel, the nearby attractions, conferences, etc. They're also marketed towards a different clientele, namely business versus consumer. And businesses pay more, period. And a business traveler has no problem paying the extra fee for WiFi so they can do their work.

      Plus, since demand for WiFi is more elastic (you can usually still use it free in the lobby, use your smart phone, or just live without it for a while), it makes sense for them to charge extra.

       

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    jakerome (profile), Oct 25th, 2011 @ 8:25pm

    Price list

    You can go to the website & sign up from anywhere. 5x faster than dial up!

    https://wifi.internationalcentre.com/portal/showfloor/rates

    FFS, the frame of reference is a bit off... does anyone at a Rogers Cent"re" meeting still use dial up?

     

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      jakerome (profile), Oct 25th, 2011 @ 8:28pm

      It gets better (read: worse)

      International Centre Wireless Service Terms and Conditions

      IMPORTANT READ CAREFULLY:

      The International Centre is the exclusive provider for wired and wireless services for the Facility and has in operation a wireless 802.11 b / g system. The wireless service offers Internet access at varying speeds, servicing exhibitors as well as attendees. The actual maximum bandwidth available depends on how many users are accessing the network simultaneously at any given time. Routers, Streaming Applications, VoIP, DHCP, NAT or Proxy Servers are not allowed with this connection. The International Centre can engineer custom dedicated network(s) to accommodate such special requests. Please call for quote. Wireless is an entry level service ideal for web surfing and checking web based email. The International Centres Wireless Network can be accessed throughout the Facility by using a Wi-Fi compatible 802.11 b / g network card or one of our rental bridge units (limited quantity of bridge units, call for availability). Wireless service is inherently vulnerable to interference from other devices that transmit similar radio frequency signals or that operate within the same frequency spectrum. The International Centre cannot guarantee that interference will not occur. The International Centre does NOT recommend wireless service for mission critical services such as product presentation or demonstrations. For demonstrations or to present products and other mission critical activity, via the Internet, the International Centre highly recommends Customer(s) purchase hardwired services. If you are unsure which of our products will best suit your needs, please call our Telecommunications office at (905) 678-5615. Restrictions and Special Requests. Due to the extensive coverage the International Centre provides for the Facility, NO Customer provided access points are authorized for use within the Facility without the Telecommunications Departments prior approval. Customers who attempt to set up their own wireless system can interfere with the International Centres Wireless Network. The International Centre requires all Customers showcasing their wireless products to contact the International Centre 21 days prior to the show move-in so that we may engineer a cohesive network operating without interference. Misuse of any wireless service may result in service interruption to yourself or other Customers and can lead to disconnection of the Customers equipment. Unsecured Wireless Networks are not tolerated within the Facility. Your service will be disconnected if you are found to be broadcasting an unsecured wireless signal. ALL WIRELESS ACCESS POINTS NOT AUTHORIZED BY THE INTERNATIONAL CENTRE ARE PROHIBITED. By using or activating an account, I hereby attest that I understand the limitations and vulnerabilities of the wireless service provided by the International Centre. I also understand that if I use this service for any reason including, but not limited to, demonstrating, showcasing or presenting my product(s), the International Centre will not be responsible for possible interference that I may experience. Refunds will not be given for service issues found not to be the fault of the International Centre.

       

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        ike, Oct 25th, 2011 @ 9:38pm

        Re: It gets better (read: worse)

        That makes it sound like the prices are per room or event, not per user.

         

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        Anonymous Coward, Oct 26th, 2011 @ 5:01am

        Re: It gets better (read: worse)

        For some reason, when I read this, the first thing that came to mind was that Saturday Night Live Skit with Sean Connery and Alex Trebek. (Bith Canadian).

        And for CAD$200.00 you too can find the link to the comedic clip on YouTube...

         

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      Berenerd (profile), Oct 26th, 2011 @ 6:55am

      Re: Price list

      That woman in the picture is the owner...looking at her recent bank statement...

       

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    Robert Freetard, Oct 25th, 2011 @ 8:27pm

    The obvious dodge is

    To rent a room at the cheap hotel with free wireless next door and use it from your swanky room, it's still cheaper.

     

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    Sampson (profile), Oct 25th, 2011 @ 8:32pm

    Holland is worse!

    I just got back from Amsterdam and WIFI is available just about everywhere. The cost is 5 euros for 15 min!

     

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    Bryan Price (profile), Oct 25th, 2011 @ 9:27pm

    And I thought the $30/1GB (IIRC) was expensive in ZA. Looking at the hotel website, I see that they give everybody 100MB/day to guests.

     

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    Aaron Von Gauss, Oct 25th, 2011 @ 9:29pm

    Economics

    Its been many years, but isn't the adage - charge what the market will bear? A related question, unless this is a new offering, who the hell is actually paying these rates that they maintain the service?

     

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    ike, Oct 25th, 2011 @ 9:35pm

    I used to work next door. Man, if I still worked there, I would setup a competing service! :)

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 25th, 2011 @ 10:54pm

    It's always that ridiculous

    I live in Hong Kong, and certain hotel charged me HKD 45 (around USD 5.77) for 15 minutes. Dispite the Startbuck on the opposite road offer free WiFi access.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 25th, 2011 @ 11:11pm

    Afghanistan

    I pay $100 a month for my 128/64Kbps in Afghanistan. Just think I could spend that much in a day in a highly developed area. Oh and my provider allows streaming applications (when it works).

     

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    Brian, Oct 25th, 2011 @ 11:41pm

    Even Cellular is Cheaper

    If I ever go to a convention at the International Centre, I'll just use my Rogers Wireless 30gb cellular data plan especially since tethering is included at no extra cost. I've never seen rates that high before.

     

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    Brian, Oct 25th, 2011 @ 11:48pm

    or...I should say 6gb cellular data for $30 - not 30gb data!! - and that's as expensive as I'd want to pay. Of course places close to the International Centre offer free wifi.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 26th, 2011 @ 1:09am

    while I try to avoid it, there are times when I really have no choice but to pay

    He's getting closer to disclosure...

     

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      Chargone (profile), Oct 26th, 2011 @ 5:31am

      Re:

      *facepalms*

       

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      Anonymous Coward, Oct 26th, 2011 @ 6:55am

      Re:

      Wow. Bonus points for taking something completely out of context in order to push your own agenda. You, sir, have the makings of a class-A (as in asshole) Congresscritter. Congrats!

       

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        Anonymous Coward, Oct 26th, 2011 @ 9:48am

        Re: Re:

        Sorry, but it speaks to exactly what Masnick's hidden pathology is.

        Pretty cogent on a site that is primarily devoted to defending pirates.

         

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          PaulT (profile), Oct 26th, 2011 @ 1:13pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          ...and your fantasy continues...

          Again, I swear you'll join the rest of us in the real world one day and participate in a real conversation, where you'll address the actual opinions of the people you attack. One day...

           

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            Anonymous Coward, Oct 26th, 2011 @ 1:21pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            And perhaps one day you'll stop being Mike's sock puppet...

             

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              PaulT (profile), Oct 26th, 2011 @ 1:36pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              Maybe you'll accept that people are allowed to have opinions without being a "pirate" or having other vested interests. I state my honest, unvarnished opinion here, I wish I could say the same for others.

              /here endeth the toddler-style argument. I hope.

               

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    aaa, Oct 26th, 2011 @ 2:04am

    I keep a cheap dialup account for traveling -- it's still the only way to access the internet from many remote backwoods areas. There are many dialup providers to choose from for around $5/month (w/hours limited to 100 or 150 per month). The best price I've found is 1access.net, which charges $3.33/month for 150 hrs/month when prepaid for a year.

    Dialup also makes a handy backup for those times when the hotel's router is down.

    One a side note, it seems that dialup accounts are similar to Hotel Wi-Fi regarding the fact that price has little correlation to quality. In my experience the $5/month dialup accounts are essentially no different than the $25/month dialup accounts.

     

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      Mike Raffety (profile), Oct 26th, 2011 @ 12:02pm

      Except most hotels are going to charge you for that modem call. Even the ones that offer "free local calls" (usually the cheap hotels that are giving you free WiFi too) often limit the free call duration to something like 30 minutes. And then I can't order room service while on-line. :-)

       

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    harbingerofdoom (profile), Oct 26th, 2011 @ 4:30am

    they recently changed it, but the business center at one of the hotels in reno used to charge $20/hr to use one of their computers connected to their LAN.

    not exactly the same thing here i know... but still a pretty steep price for that.

     

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    Paul Renault (profile), Oct 26th, 2011 @ 4:38am

    Bogus arguments abound!

    I read the reddit comments by the installer. To sum up: bigger hotels have to install more equipment than smaller hotels because they have more rooms, so their installations cost more.

    OK, fine...but they also have more rooms! So they have more income! The better question to ask: do larger hotels have to have more equipment per room than smaller hotels? I'll skirt the obvious observation that larger hotels tend to charge more per room.

    (It's like the argument about why you can't have people hand-counting votes in the USA like we do in Canada. Yes, the USA has ten times the population so there are more votes to count. But the USA has ten times the population, so there are more people which can count the votes.)(Complicated-er ballots notwithstanding, eh.)

    Next thing you know, they'll claim that they have to charge extra for the bed sheets - because they have to have more washers and dryers than small hotels.

    Besides: 20 switches to service 120 access points? What am I missing? Maybe they need to stop buying their equipment at Staples or Best Buy and get switches with more than eight ports.

    While I'm not a network installer, my customers have moderately-complicated LANs which I have to work on sometimes. They'll often have 120 computers hard-wired in and two wifi access points. Three or four switches, two routers, a dial-up modem and a phone, data backup equipment, file servers, a monitor and keyboard, and two UPSes. It all fits in a cabinet 3ftx3ftx7ft.

    Large hotels only need: a router, three or four switches spread out throughout the hotel (to reduce cabling), some small UPSes, high-power wifi access points, and proper antennas.

    The reddit commenter mentionned $300/night. At that rate, I'd demand that Internet access be included in the room rate, just like at a Howard Johnson, instead of gouging the customers.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 26th, 2011 @ 4:58am

    Remember, those are Canadian Dollars, and I believe 10 Canadian Bucks equals US$2.75

    Congratulations on getting an iPhone, Maz.

    Will you be getting an iPad or AppleTv? AppleTVs are great fun, because they are directly connected to your wallet for purposes of comedy delivery... On a flatscreen TV that is.

     

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      FarSide (profile), Oct 26th, 2011 @ 6:15am

      Re:

      "Remember, those are Canadian Dollars, and I believe 10 Canadian Bucks equals US$2.75"

      I remember when this was funny.

       

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      Transbot9, Oct 26th, 2011 @ 6:30am

      Re:

      That was before the US dollar tanked. I think they're about even at the moment.

       

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      Anonymous Coward, Oct 26th, 2011 @ 6:41am

      Re:

      Either you forgot the /s or just are clueless regarding money rates, as The Canadian Dollar is only a few cents less than the US Dollar. Not to long ago like 2 months or so it was actually worth more than the US Dollar.

      A few years from now after all the Federal Reserve quantitative easing and other monetizing of the US Federal Debt the Canadian Dollar will be worth 10 times more than the US Dollar.

       

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        PaulT (profile), Oct 26th, 2011 @ 7:35am

        Re: Re:

        "or just are clueless"

        I take this as the default assumption for any AC trying to make a "point" while attacking Mike. It's served me well so far. At least this one bothered to state one of the "facts" he's basing it on so we can all see how clueless he is first hand.

         

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      Anonymous Coward, Oct 26th, 2011 @ 6:58am

      Re:

      10.00 CAD = 9.91796 USD

      That's current market data as of the time of this post. Try again?

       

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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 26th, 2011 @ 5:08am

    The most i have seen wifi is on cruise ships. To use the wifi, it costs approx $25 for 30 minutes.

     

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    John, Oct 26th, 2011 @ 5:16am

    You've clearly never taken a cruise

    From Royal Carribean's site:

    The cost for Wi-Fi access through your own laptop is:
    Base rate is $.65 per minute or choose from one of our prepaid packages:

    $35 for 60 minutes
    $55 for 100 minutes
    $75 for 150 minutes
    $100 for 250 minutes
    $150 for 500 minutes

     

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      Jeff Rife, Oct 26th, 2011 @ 11:06am

      Re: You've clearly never taken a cruise

      The really-high-speed satellite Internet requirement at least makes these prices have some kind of relationship to ongoing costs.

       

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        Mike Raffety (profile), Oct 26th, 2011 @ 12:06pm

        Re: Re: You've clearly never taken a cruise

        Have you tried this service on the cruise ship? It's not high speed -- it's about the speed of dial-up, and of course, horrible latency. I brought a laptop with a local mail client (Thunderbird, of course), and downloaded all my e-mail in a batch, wrote responses off-line, then went back on-line to upload all my outgoing mail. Kept the connection time to just a couple minutes at a time.

         

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      Jason, Oct 26th, 2011 @ 11:42am

      Re: You've clearly never taken a cruise

      I was going to post this, but you beat me to it

       

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    Chronno S. Trigger (profile), Oct 26th, 2011 @ 5:27am

    I don't know where...

    But a coworker of mine informed me yesterday that one of our sales guys has a choice of paying $1000 for two days of internet access. We chose the second option of shipping a hard drive overnight.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 26th, 2011 @ 7:51am

    South Africa during the world cup

    South Africa. I'd have to look up the details, but it was something like several dollars per minute at a hotel. it ended up being cheaper to buy a $100 USB modem and sim card for ~$30/GB.

     

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    Dave, Oct 26th, 2011 @ 10:04am

    expense account

    I, too, found this puzzling until it was explained that posh hotels are catering to biz travelers who are all on expense accounts. So the room occupant doesn't care, their employer pays up and claims it as a business expense, and it's one big happy family.

     

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    btr1701 (profile), Oct 26th, 2011 @ 11:25am

    Vegas

    I just spent a few days in Vegas, stayed at the luxury Vdara Hotel in the City Center complex, and was surprised to find that not only is their wifi completely free, but they don't even have any login screen where they match your name and room number to at least verify you're a guest there.

    Kind of surprising, since as Mike mentioned, usually the high-end hotels are the ones who really gouge on the amenities. It's usually your Residence Inns and Hampton Suites that give away the wifi for free.

     

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    Skippy T. Mut, Oct 26th, 2011 @ 11:32am

    Sharaton Hotel

    I stayed at the Sheraton in Atlantic City and although it wasn't more expensive than what you show here it was one of the more ridiculous things I'd ever heard of. They want $10\day for wifi in my room but if I went down to the first or second floor common areas it was free. Just seems weird to me to try and charge in one area but have it free in another area. Are executives everywhere really this stupid?

     

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      btr1701 (profile), Oct 26th, 2011 @ 4:13pm

      Re: Sharaton Hotel

      A resort in Palm Springs only made wifi available for conference/convention attendees. You had to have a code they provide when you show up for your conference. But if you were just a hotel guest there on vacation, no wifi for you. You still got internet service, but you could only access it through a physical ethernet connection.

      Still can't figure out why they would give one kind of customer access to wifi but not another.

       

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    Joshy, Oct 26th, 2011 @ 12:13pm

    LOL one hundred a day is cheap. Try getting internet for less than a thousand a day per user on any trade show floor. I've paid and using the Internet successfully is even a further challenge.

    A quick googling showed these two articles: Burstein cites the example of the San Diego Convention Center, which charges $1,195 for Internet access with one IP address and $150 per each extra IP address. http://www.masshightech.com/stories/2011/04/11/weekly10-Trade-Show-Internet-sees-growth-in-low-cost- show-floor-Internet-access.html

    -or-

    If you are attending a typical trade show and want Internet access during your three day stay, you need to fork over $1,200. And if you decide to buy that connection at the last minute, your fee would be a whopping $1,800. A super-fast connection could set you back over $10,000.
    http://www.letstalktradeshows.com/3573/some-call-it-highway-robbery-do-you/

     

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    trish, Oct 26th, 2011 @ 6:39pm

    april fools

    techdirt site get renamed 'Pirate blog' for a day, and there be lots of arrrrggh'in' and encouragin' of torrents. Then let trolls have field day. Hilarity ensues!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 26th, 2011 @ 7:52pm

    Yet another example how Canadians are Raped by ISPs. We built the first digital networks back in the 1970s, but all of our communications are regulated by a government agency full of corporate shills that pander to the absurd demands of big telecom. In return, the government lackeys get huge salaries from the telecoms as soon as they "retire".

    Competition, please drop by Canada when you get a chance. I think you would be shocked by what you find.

     

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    AMusingFool (profile), Oct 27th, 2011 @ 10:10am

    I smell a business opportunity...

    Set up a wireless setup next door, maybe with a high-gain antenna, and sell for 1/10th the price...

    Of course, you'd have to deal with Maple Leaf fans, but there are always hazards in business...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

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    Lee-Bergeron (profile), Nov 12th, 2011 @ 4:55am

    Wifi

    There is one hotel in Texas I paid $2.00 every 5 mins.The bill was crazy.That was the last time I do that.I tether my phone to my laptop now.

    Lee Bergeron

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

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    Holly Crabtree, Aug 20th, 2013 @ 7:46am

    Wifi On Cruises

    Cruise lines are definitely some of the most expensive Wifis available; costing up to $0.95 per minute.

    The only thing I can say is don't use pay as you go while on board, else you could be spending hundreds of dollars per day.

    Info taken from here.

    Even with some of the packages they offer, you could be spending your day handing out money willy-nilly.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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