Back from another road trip, this time to a game convention. The WiFi at the hotel has improved slightly – but unfortunately for the hotel, and the guests, everybody seems to have at least two and often three WiFi devices. I had my computer, iPhone, and iPad. When you have a convention of 1800+ people, all with at least a couple of devices, that doesn’t leave a lot of bandwidth. I received a text from my boss, asking me to run a job for work. It was impossible. Tasks that take 20 seconds took 10-15 minutes. I finally had to tell my boss I’d run it later when I got back to my hotel (I didn’t stay at the convention hotel because, frankly it’s a dump). At least at my hotel off the convention site, I had a solid, if also slow, connection.
So if you’re traveling to any sort of convention or event, plan on bringing your own Internet access, via tethering, either through a phone or tablet device; if you don’t have either, you might want to look into a dedicated tethering device like a MiFi. I don’t have tethering on my phone thanks to AT&T’s outrageous extra charge for it (however, when I can switch to the “pooled” plan later this month, I’ll get tethering). But I do have it on my Verizon iPad – it was one of the main reason I went with the Verizon model over AT&T. There were a few times at my hotel that I switched over to using the iPad as my connection for my laptop or just to speed up my iPad. Even when the hotel Internet is working, their idea of “high speed” and mine is usually pretty different. I measured the download speed at the best of 1 Mb down and .3 up – barely tolerable when remoting into work. At the convention hotel, I didn’t even let the speed test finish because it was taking so long.
The moral of the story – don’t count on that “free, high-speed” Internet connection if you must get online. Expect to bring your own connectivity, because free Internet is often worth what you paid for it.