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Travelers Still Want Free Hotel WiFi

The one thing business travelers want most in a hotel is a free WiFi connection, but it's also the one thing luxury hotels don't want to provide without a fee. Previously I wrote about this subject for BNET, mainly how luxury chains were the least likely to provide free WiFi and budget hotels often bundled it into the cost of the room.

Bloggers have started campaigns, a technology reporter did a lengthy rant on a dearth of 10-year-old WiFi technology in hotels, while the New York Times did a more diplomatic approach by naming which hotels offered the perk in New York City.

As I have previously stated, some of the hotels that offer free Internet were Travelodge, Best Western, Aloft, Element, EconoLodge, Holiday Inn and Radisson. Although several are budget hotels, many are mid-range hotels that are used by business travelers. (Among the hotels that do charge: St. Regis, Embassy Suites, Le Meridien, Four Seasons, Grand Hyatt and JW Marriott.)

In the past, wiring hotels (and homes) was expensive and labor-intensive, but with the advent of wireless technology the costs have become a fraction of what they once were. That's one of the reasons for the proliferation of free Wi-Fi, although not all hotels have embraced this. It's too bad, because it's a low-cost way to create goodwill.

For those travelers who aren't blessed with free wireless, hotspots are now all over including airports, superior court jury lounges, Starbucks, Amtrak and now McDonald's. (Yes, McDonald's.) So those of you not gifted with free access can easily find it all the way from San Francisco to Portland, Maine.

However, shouldn't the knowledge that McDonalds -- whose claim to fame is the $1 menu -- can provide free WiFi to its guests shame these hotels asking $1,450 a night and a fee to use the Internet?

I'm still hoping for a revolution, but I have a feeling some of these hotels will hold out even for that extra $10 a day.

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