The next thing I want to rant about is wifi access in airports and hotels. We’re pretty lucky in Guernsey, our airport has free wifi access throughout, something I have come to appreciate a lot (Cable & Wireless, for all their local broadband overcharging, did something right here) having spent time in UK airports and hotels . All UK airports seem to be living in the late 1990s with their incredibly expensive, incredibly crappy ‘internet cafes’ and ridiculously overpriced wifi access via BT Openzone or similar. I honestly felt quite shocked when I saw the prices that these guys are still charging - 10p a minute is a pretty usual tariff, and the hotels I stayed in were even worse - one was 50p a minute for landline access. Now for Gods sake, what year is this? Wifi and fast internet access is all-pervasive, and incredibly cheap to run; why on earth are consumers putting up with this crap? I realise they’re targetting business people, but we’re not all stockbrokers with pinstripes so wide you could mistake them for a dual carriageway, when you’re on a budget and stuck travelling a lot, getting shafted for this kind of money for such an easy service leaves a very bad taste in the mouth.
Other countries don’t seem to be like this either. I stayed in Boston last year in a hotel outside the city, and they had free in-room broadband and free wifi in the lobby. I’ve also noticed that the place we’re staying in Thailand in November has free wifi access (although my life will be forfeit if I dare to suggest taking the laptop on holiday with me). Maybe it’s just the city / airport hotels in the UK, or maybe I was unlucky with the 2 I stayed in last week, but come on, if I’m paying your ridiculously inflated rates already I do expect to get some decent services.
Wifi access in 2007 should be seen like air conditioning or toilet facilities - and I bet it’s far cheaper to run than either of them. It’s not a premium service anymore, it’s been a commodity for at least the last few years and such blatant capitalism on such things is utterly unacceptable. I personally refused to be part of such bare-faced racketeering and stayed mostly offline, but it really irritated me.