Digital Culture Personal

Stupid hotels; or Why Should I Pay for WiFi

I’m currently sitting in the Marriott Anaheim Convention Center, beside the Starbucks. I have a couple of hours to kill since I took an earlier flight than the people I’m meeting here, so I thought to myself: “Self…why don’t you pop open the ol’ laptop and get a little reading/browsing/work done in the meantime.” So I proceed to, confident that no hotel chain is still stupid enough to charge for wifi in their lobbies.

Of course, much like Space and Time, there is no limit to stupidity.

Not ONLY do they charge for WiFi access in the lobby, and not only do they ALSO charge for wired connections in their rooms…no one has the slightest clue about how the wifi works, charges, etc. I had to boot up and actually check the login page to see prices since no one in the hotel lobby had a clue.

This hotspot is controlled by some company called Ibahn, and even after getting to the page, my questions didn’t stop:

Ibahn login page

As you can see, there are two top choices: 24 hours for $9.95, or 1 day for $9.95. This left me pondering what possible difference there might be between the two that necessitated both choices. Do they not mean consecutive hours? 24 random hours? 24 hours of my choosing? You’d think that question might have come up a few times, and been answered….but no. Not anywhere in the terms of service, not anywhere I can find on the page at all. Just two choices that seem identical, but can’t possibly be since they are both there.

Ah well. I bit the bullet, since this will be paid for by the company I’m out here for eventually anyway. But boy could these guys use a lesson in the economics of wifi and the value of usability testing.

By griffey

Jason Griffey is the Director of Strategic Initiatives at NISO, where he works to identify new areas of the information ecosystem where standards expertise is useful and needed. Prior to joining NISO in 2019, Jason ran his own technology consulting company for libraries, has been both an Affiliate at metaLAB and a Fellow and Affiliate at the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University, and was an academic librarian in roles ranging from reference and instruction to Head of IT at the University of TN at Chattanooga.

Jason has written extensively on technology and libraries, including multiple books and a series of full-periodical issues on technology topics, most recently AI & Machine Learning in Libraries and Library Spaces and Smart Buildings: Technology, Metrics, and Iterative Design from 2018. His newest book, co-authored with Jeffery Pomerantz, will be published by MIT Press in 2024.

He has spoken internationally on topics such as artificial intelligence & machine learning, the future of technology and libraries, decentralization and the Blockchain, privacy, copyright, and intellectual property. A full list of his publications and presentations can be found on his CV.
He is one of eight winners of the Knight Foundation News Challenge for Libraries for the Measure the Future project (, an open hardware project designed to provide actionable use metrics for library spaces. He is also the creator and director of The LibraryBox Project (, an open source portable digital file distribution system.

Jason can be stalked obsessively online, and spends his free time with his daughter Eliza, reading, obsessing over gadgets, and preparing for the inevitable zombie uprising.

One reply on “Stupid hotels; or Why Should I Pay for WiFi”

In Disney’s convention hotel, I paid $9.95 for 24 hours access, wired, from my room. Had I gone with the wireless option, available only in the lobby and bar/restaurants and half the convention center, I would have paid $4.95 for 24 hours. I hooked up, wired, from my room 3 times.
At Wyndhams, you have to pay for wireless access. You can have wired, in your room, for $9.95 or free if you’re a ByRequest member (which I am, thank goodness).
At Marriotts, Intercontinental/Holiday Inns, Radissons, and all the larger chains, you will pay for your Internet access. The theory? Most of the folks are there on business anyway and it will just be expensed. It’s just another way to make money from people (you and me included) who will pay it.
Boutique hotels, like Kimptons, and smaller hotels like Best Westerns, Days Inns, Holiday Inn Express, and other lower budget hotels generally offer free wireless because it becomes an enticement for folks to stay there.
Recently I read a whole article on this – I think it was in the Wall Street Journal, which is subscription only online or I’d link it.
Enjoy the conference though! Oh – and it’s very possible your conference will have wireless access. Mine did. That’s always nice. 🙂
Have fun!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *