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?

Filed Under: overvaluing, wifi

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  1. icon
    W Klink (profile), 26 Oct 2011 @ 7:42am


    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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