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Wi-Fi access in UK hotels is a 'rip-off'

The high cost of Wi-Fi access in UK hotels has been slammed in the latest UK edition of The Good Hotel Guide . The guide names and shames some of the worst culprits and describes the prices currently charged for Wi-Fi access as "extortionate".

Widespread mobile use has meant that the income from fixed lines in hotel rooms has decreased. This has seen some hotels replace this lost income with "rip-off" Wi-Fi prices, according to the guide.

London's Savoy Hotel was named as one of the worst, charging close to £10 for 24-hour access, along with the Knightsbridge Green Hotel , which charges £12 per day. Another hotel in Cambridge charges £14 a day and £4.50 an hour for access.

Wi-Fi access has increasingly become free in US hotels, the guide notes, but analyst Ian Fogg of Jupiter Research believes the comparison is not necessarily accurate.

"When you're rolling out Wi-Fi, it depends on the construction of the hotel, and American buildings are very different," Fogg said, adding that it was "not as simple to roll out Wi-Fi access [in a hotel] as many people think - to offer a good signal in every bedroom is very challenging".

Poor information

Fogg suggested that the first step towards tackling hotel Wi-Fi pricing in the UK should be transparency, as it is "not sufficiently clear when booking a hotel what type of broadband is available, and what price it is. They normally just say 'internet available'".

Graeme Powell, European managing director at iBAHN , specialists in secure wireless and wired broadband services for the hospitality industry, agreed that the Guide's view that Wi-Fi is cheap to install and maintain is misinformed. He said: "To state that setting up a wireless network in a hotel is cheap and needs no maintenance is somewhat short-sighted."

Powell said that the actual set-up and ongoing support of a Wi-Fi network demands much more than any domestic service. Multiple users demanding secure high-speed access generally means that hotels need to fit a leased line connection.

"Using wireless internet when in public is rarely free if end users want a secure and reliable experience," he said.

"A quick study of hourly access prices in many popular restaurants, coffee shops and airport lounges would show that many charge at least £5, if not more, for a one-hour connection." Anna Lagerkvist