2010-05-30

The doghouse: Residence Inn "High Speed" Internet

My wife and I are currently on an extended trip. We spent some time in Vegas and are now visiting Chicago. Hotel prices in Vegas currently seem to be about as low as they're going to be, so we took this as an opportunity to stay in some nicer hotels that we might not have otherwise considered. We stayed in the lower-end suites at Trump, Vdara and our favorite from last year, South Point, and we must say that the Trump is now our favorite experience. We will for sure stay there again, if we can get a similarly reasonable rate.

What we liked most about the Trump was the lack of any major inconveniences or drawbacks. The suite was nice and had a great view overlooking the strip. The bathroom was the most marvelous of a comparable size suite or room that we ever stayed at. There was a lot of storage space; there was a nice little kitchenette; none of the space was wasted on a mini-bar with insulting prices; 24 hour room service with excellent food; a 24 hour gym; and quite importantly...

... fast and reliable internet access.

Thankfully, all of the hotels we stayed at in Vegas this time - Trump, Vdara, and South Point - offered great internet access.

Now fast forward to our stay in Chicago. The most reasonable accommodation we could find was at a Residence Inn, where for a decent price, the little suite has nearly everything you might wish for - even a full fledged kitchen with a large fridge and a freezer - except...

... fast and reliable internet access.

About a week ago at South Point, I clocked the download speed at 2.3 megabytes per second. Here at Residence Inn, the "High Speed Internet" connection manages a paltry 60 kB/s, or about 2.5% of that.

At Vdara, the ping time to Google was consistently around 60-70 ms. Here, the ping time ranges anywhere from 300 to over 1000, with an average of over 500 ms. Even just pages with a lot of images take long to load, let alone more network intensive types of access.

I called the hotel's internet help desk, provided by Guest-Tek, to ask about these issues, and was shocked at their response. I thought perhaps there is a technical problem that makes the network temporarily that slow. But no. This is their service operating as intended. They consider the service to be primarily for business purposes such as email and basic web browsing. The following, they explicitly stated, are not what they consider acceptable uses:
  • Watching streaming video (e.g. YouTube).
  • Downloading music (e.g. from Amazon or iTunes).
  • Skype.
I am perplexed that, with such limitations, they dare call their service "high speed" internet. What, exactly, is "high speed" about emails and basic web pages, in the year 2010? I could do that with a modem, fifteen years ago.

If anyone knows of a place to stay in or around Chicago that offers (1) a fridge, (2) actual high speed internet access, and (3) a reasonable price...

... please leave a comment.

Edit: We made the mistake of giving a chance to another Marriott-operated Residence Inn in a different area near Chicago. They again advertised "free high-speed internet", and again, the problems were identical. The average ping time is 500-1000 ms, and the average transfer speed is 30-60 kB/s. A simple text page can take some 10 seconds to load. A page with photos takes minutes.

I am reporting these guys to the Federal Trade Commission - if I can get the page to load. :)

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

why not check airbnb.com why not try a bed and breakfast

denis bider said...

Interesting, I didn't know about AirBnB.

Anonymous said...

I hate to nit-pick but 60kB/s (kilobytes per second) is not modem speed, it's more around 600kb/s and frankly quite decent.

60kb/s (kilobits per second) is modem speed and will garner around 5-6kB/s. Obviously not "High Speed"

Mika said...

I work for Guest-Tek.
High-Speed Internet means Broadband and you can find it under your Network Connections, hotels used to call it high-speed because it sounds better, our company didn't want it.
Also we are not an ISP for ANY hotel, he have there our system for guest logins.
We support many hotels that have over 8Mbp/s or 13, but it always depends on the hotel decision.

It's always easier to check Wikipedia and "high-speed internet" than reporting us to the Federal Trade Commission or any hotel that doesn't want to upgrade their ISP Internet package.

Cheers!

denis bider said...

Hello Mika,

thank you for the clarification. My apologies for mis-associating the bandwidth issues with Guest-Tek, then. I will correct the article accordingly.

Like you said: you didn't want the expression "high-speed internet" because it's misleading. The hotel nevertheless went ahead and advertised in this misleading manner when they don't actually have bandwidth. I believe this constitutes false advertising and it's why I reported the hotel.

I did report the actual hotels, not Guest-Tek, because it's the hotels doing the false advertising.

denis bider said...

Anonymous -

True. I didn't write that 60 kB/s is modem speed, though. I was referring to the internet help desk's response that the provided internet access is only for essentials such as email and web browsing. My remark was that I was able to do those things with a modem, fifteen years ago.

You are totally correct that 60 kB could be considered "decent", if you're used to "extremely slow". This is the year 2010, however, and YouTube is a major internet application. If the internet connection doesn't even support YouTube, that's removing a majority of the value provided by internet access for many people right there. And it is definitely not "high speed", which is why I it is false advertising.

Ali said...

Not an ISP but you do provide the whole system and design.

How good is a network consultant who can not even design the network properly.

Unknown said...

I have had several experiences which were less than satisfactory with very slow and unstable WiFi. The web site www.hotelwifitest.com encourages quests to test their WiFi to give people some hint that certain hotels have bad WiFi.
My worst experience was in the Mira Mesa area of San Diego.