In 2011 the United Nations declared that access to the internet was a human right and that limiting a person’s access is a violation on their human rights under international law. This declaration serves to remind us just how much we take access to the internet for granted – something also put into sharp focus when reliable Wi-Fi access is unavailable when we’re travelling.

While struggling to find a fast Wi-Fi service during a business trip is probably more of an issue of convenience rather than a human rights violation, it’s interesting which countries have access to the best Wi-Fi networks. According to quite a few lists that have been compiled over the years, countries such as Singapore, the USA, Canada and Australia often don’t make it into the top 10 when factors such as speed, security and free public access are compared.

Regularly topping the list for access to fast and free public Wi-Fi is South Korea. Other countries at the top of the list for their availability to free public Wi-Fi are Lithuania, Croatia, Estonia, Ireland, Romania, UK, Denmark, Hungary and Belgium. You can even take advantage of free Wi-Fi at a roadside cafe in Bali. So why do many hotels, in major cities, still charge business travellers for the privilege?

The simple answer is speed, security and quality. To install and support a robust network across a hotel, with good bandwidth to provide the speed that guests expect, is expensive. Hotel Internet Services (HIS), a provider of internet services and solutions, recently released a 2019 Whitepaper titled “Meeting Hotel Guest Wi-Fi Expectations in the Age of Hyper Connectivity and IoT (Internet of Things).

“Hoteliers have understood the importance that guests place on Wi-Fi for some time now; however, many may not fully grasp the implications of how quickly consumer technology and online guest behaviour is evolving and what that means to how Wi-Fi and related services are being offered at their properties,” HIS CEO Gary Patrick said.

The HIS survey indicated that -:

over 90% of guests are worried about personal data security when staying at a hotel. 85% stressed that Wi-Fi quality would affect their decision to rebook with a specific property or hotel brand.

In short, guest expectations are rapidly increasing each year as they travel with more devices they wish to connect to hotel Wi-Fi and online guest behaviour is placing greater strain on hotel networks.

A 2016 survey from English hotelier Roomzzz found that 65% of hotel guests go online within seven minutes of checking in and one third requested the hotel Wi-Fi password as soon as they arrived. Wi-Fi was also ranked as the second most important ‘wish list’ item for those travellers surveyed, after getting a free room upgrade. While a Statista survey of personal and business travellers, conducted in the United States in 2017, revealed that 80% of hotel guests rated internet access as the most crucial hotel service.

Tips to stay Wi-Fi savvy

  • Whether you are paying for it or not, following a few basic tips will help business travellers avoid Wi-Fi scams.
  • Secure Wi-Fi usually asks for a password and the data is encrypted.
  • Before you connect, ask at the Hotel front desk for their official network address to check that the Wi-Fi network that automatically comes up on your device is legitimate.
  • Be aware that hackers create fake networks, often using the hotel’s name, to make them look like they are a legitimate network. If you use the fake Wi-Fi network, personal data on your device can easily be stolen.
  • Always look for the green padlock in the address bar at the far left.
  • To be extra cautious, avoid online banking and credit card transactions when using a hotel or public Wi-Fi network.
  • If a network is unsecured, you can instead use your mobile phone as a hotspot to connect your tablet or laptop – just be aware of your data plan limits.
  • Always keep your antivirus and security software up to date.
  • If in doubt, it is always better to pay for access to a secure network rather than risk your personal information being stolen.

Source: FCM Travel management

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