Normally the one to highlight when something is done badly, I also want to give praise where it is due.
I’m currently staying in a Premier Inn in leafy Abingdon. The data service here that I’d normally tether to is next to non-existent, dropping out all over the place. It looks like I’m in the shadow of some structure, between me and the Three UK antenna. There are also a couple of water courses in between, which might be hindering the signal.
So, I’m forced onto one of my pet hates, paid-for hotel wifi. Remember that Premier Inn are marketed as a “no frills” hotel – but they are almost always spotlessly clean and consistent.
It was either pony up for that or go and track down (and pay for) an O2 PAYG data sim, as I do at least have line of sight from my room here to one of their masts.
Firstly, I fired up Wifi Explorer, and took a look at what is deployed here.
Not only was the 2.4GHz likely to work okay, but they also had 5GHz too!
So, I decided that it was worth a spin. I signed up for the free half hour. Then I actually found I could get real work done on this connection, so I gave it a speed test.
Not only have they got 5GHz, but they have recently slashed their prices. Some would say that it should be free anyway, but £3 for the day, or £20 for a month seemed a reasonable deal, especially if you’re staying in a Premier Inn a lot (I’m actually back here again next week).
I’ve not tried connecting multiple devices simultaneously using the same login, but I suspect you can’t, which is possibly the only downside.
However, big props to the folks at Premier Inn for actually having a wifi install that works, even if that means having to pay for it. I’ve seen much worse services in high-end hotels which have under-provisioned, congested (and often expensive) 2.4GHz networks.
Credit where it is earned, indeed.
Update: Sadly, it seems Premier Inn have decided we can’t have too much of a good thing, and need to manage our expectations. It’s alleged that they have therefore plotted with those dastardly people at Arqiva to make Premier Inn wifi universally shit.
Please read this item from Bill Buchan, which reports that the wifi is now clamped to 2.5Mb/sec on the premium “ultimate” offering.
The question I’ve got is if the “ultimate wifi” is, as they market it, 8x faster than the free wifi, then I make the free wifi out to be <500Kb/sec.
I can just imagine a load of product management muppets sat around some buzzword infested meeting room table, cowed by groupthink, agreeing this is a good idea.