Hello there. I’ve mentioned a few times recently that I’m over in sunny Australia, and I’ve still got a few days left till I return to the bleak winter of the UK. I’m actually kinda looking forward to it, in a perverse way. Bring on the mince pies and snow.
Anyhows, travelling about and trying to work for several hours a day over Wi-Fi can be trickier than it sounds. Much trickier. Ready for one of my patented rants? You know you love it really.
First of all, I’ve noticed that several - perhaps it'd even be fair to say most - international airports don’t have free Wi-Fi. Is that not pretty ridiculous in this day and age? We can launch giant metal tubes into the sky with hundreds of passengers, but a decent free Wi-Fi service in the terminal is out of the question.
I found myself using a couple of decidedly dodgy free Wi-Fi networks in Dubai and Singapore airports, and soon afterwards my email account was hacked. Coincidence? Maybe I’m just paranoid after watching a documentary about the perils of free public Wi-Fi. Maybe.
I’ve noticed too that some companies adopt different policies in different countries. Take McDonald’s, for example. Back in the UK, McDonald’s has the Cloud network, which is handy if you happen to be with O2, but a bit of a pain otherwise.
Over here in Kangarooland, McDonald’s was my friggin’ saviour during my last visit. I quite often found myself screaming through the middle of nowhere in our campervan, but I knew that if I could just find a town with a few hundred people in it, invariably there’d be a McDonald’s with free Wi-Fi.
Better still, you could often pick up the Wi-Fi outside the “restaurant”, so there was no obligation to buy anything. Actually, I’m hanging my head in shame at that; rest assured, I bought a hell of a lot of double cheeseburgers.
Starbucks, however; now there’s a strange one. Starbucks expects me to pay for Wi-Fi. Admittedly my experience of running an international coffee franchise is fairly limited, but would it not make sense to woo customers in with free Wi-Fi so that they hang around and buy several coffees and maybe even a slice of carrot cake?
Personally, I’d quite gladly chill in Starbucks all day with my laptop, but I’d rather pay for coffee and cake than pay for Wi-Fi. Pay for Wi-Fi? Are you out of your freakin’ mind?
The flip side of the coin is the State Library of Victoria, which offers free Wi-Fi for all. Not just for students, you understand; any old Joe can walk in off the street and use the Wi-Fi, so long as he keeps his gob shut while he does so.
Better still, they have computers for use too. Free internet for all. That’s the way it should be, I reckon.
Things go a little mental when you start looking at accommodation, and it’s the same the world over. I’m currently staying in a fairly classy backpackers’ place, and I get 500MB for two days. That’s more than enough. If you go over that, you’re probably downloading stuff illegally. Tut tut.
It's probably fair to say that most of the low-end/modest places I've stayed recently have included some sort of free internet slash Wi-Fi.
At the other end of the scale, you’ve got hotels like the Hilton asking for more money to go online. What the furg is that all about? So you pay more money up front for supposedly four or five star facilities, but you have pay on top of that for Wi-Fi? Get outta here, you greedy bastions.
I guess these five star hotels are largely used by business people where it’s paid for by the company, or big fat rich people who poo money. But it’s a strange state of affairs, I say. Imagine you had to pay extra to use the pool or the lifts or watch TV. It’s madness, I tell you, and all because Wi-Fi is relatively new.
Right, I should probably stop ranting and go to sleep. If you disagree, make use of the Comments section and berate me to your heart's content.