The other day I stayed in a Premier Inn and was expecting to have a working connection via WiFi or 4G, but it turned out my expectations were too high.
The first thing I noticed was that my phone got full 4G signal in the carpark. At that point, I thought the worst that could happen his that I would end up using a personal hotspot to get my devices online, but sadly I was wrong.
After I’d checked in and went to my room, I got my phone out to check the WiFi situation, and there were two options (free and ultimate).
I went with the free option because I thought it would be enough for my basic needs. I logged in and was connected to the internet but…
• The ping was often above 300 ms which meant I was unable to use the internet for anything requiring quick response times
• The average download speed that night was around 0.34 MBPS, and I was expecting 0.99 MBPS
• When I decided to give up and use 4G, I only had one bar and it wasn’t any faster than the WiFi.
I couldn’t believe the rapid difference in 4G signal as the car was only about 20 metres away and I had got full signal there. I thought the hotel might be jamming 4G, but how? My room had an open window.
The next night I decided I was going to have to pay £5 for the Ultimate WiFi, which I thought might be just about usable.
I went to reception to get a voucher and they actually gave it to me for free.
I got back to my room and connected up my phone. I was now getting 6 MBPS download speed but…
• The internet regularly stopped working – it dropped out roughly every 10 minutes and you had to re-login
• The upload speed was still much worse (under 1 MBPS)
• I couldn’t join a Zoom meeting that evening and had to do it in the car outside the hotel.
Later on that evening, the ISP suddenly changed from KCOM Group PLC to Virgin Media Business.
It turned out that the hotel was in their switch-over period for broadband, which explained most of the problems.
In a switch-over period you can expect disruption to the internet and slow speeds, and some providers even suggest you use 4G routers while switching.
The hotel should have organsised backup WiFi, but they didn’t. They should have at least let in more of the 4G signal.
I worked out the nxt morning that the internet was much better in the reception area.
There were three parts to create this huge problem:
• Premier Inn WiFi is normally pretty slow anyway.
• The hotel temporarily made it slow down by switching provider.
• There was a faulty router near my room.
And these three things together are the reason why this problem seemed so huge at the time.