Image via WikipediaSo I'm in the hotel lobby lounge having a meeting. As usual, I am accompanied (as is increasingly the case) by my notebook and I need Internet access. As usual, access is blocked until I pay the hotel for a password and go through a browser based validation. It's Dhs30 an hour (or a tad over $8). Most hotels sell guests 24 hours for Dhs 100 ($27), but at this rate 8 hours' access alone would cost Dhs 240 ($66). Let us not forget that the Japanese pay $0.27 per megabit per month.
As usual, the lobby lounge waiter tells me that the cards are sold by the business centre. I have taken to pointing out to lobby lounge waiters (or meeting room assistants or rooftop bar cocktail waiters) that I am not sitting in the business centre - I am in the lobby lounge where wireless is provided and therefore it would seem to make some sort of sense that the lobby lounge staff would be able to fulfil a request for that service just as they would a cup of tea or an indifferent club sandwich. It's not a business service any more, people - it's critical to most businesspeople.
I know, I know - I'm just being grumpy. But Internet access is not only important to many of us these days, it is increasingly something we will use on our mobiles as well as our notebook computers. It is increasingly as unthinkable for a service provider such as a hotel to charge for Internet access as it would be to charge for water or light - not only in the rooms but in the public spaces where meetings are constantly taking place between increasingly connected people.
If I can't have free Internet access in the lobby, then at least consider getting me online for a reasonable cost and without forcing a pointless rigmarole involving the business centre and the many permutations of cash payments, seperate invoices and stumbling waiters that invariably accompany the (frustrated) expectation of someone living in the Internet age...