AmexWifiBoingo

Over at FierceWireless, there is an article that discusses how the importance of Wi-Fi offloading going forward. In the article, it is noted that companies such as American Express may soon become your primary mobile carrier. Already, AMEX has begun offering customers access to over 1 million public Wi-Fi hotspots from Boingo. Therefore, as the article suggests, is it correct to assume that these types of companies may eventually want to offer packages centered around their public Wi-Fi networks?

It is a good question (and good article) but I think it glosses over the fact that so many of these public hotspots are still plagued by poor connectivity, poor service and rather average-at-best upkeep. Then there is the security aspect of it which is in fact a big question mark with Wi-Fi hotspots.

Let’s go back a bit. Even dating back to 2012, it is well known how much of a hassle Wi-Fi hotspots are with customers. As one writer for PCWorld found out, accessing numerous Wi-Fi hotspots became a nightmare.

Fast forward to today and we see Comcast forcing allowing customers to have their modems become Wi-Fi hotspots, creating a large Wi-Fi hotspot network. But has anyone tried using this connection for anything requiring a decent amount of speed. I personally have used this often (due to Comcast users around me) and find the speeds to be….quite lacking. I am not alone either. As one blog pointed out, when he tried using Comcast’s hotspot network, his conclusion was that “the connectivity speeds have been so slow that they completely negate any value in this feature’s existence.” Ouch.

Time Warner Cable also has Wi-Fi hotspots. Simply look at their hotspot forum to see how well customers are receiving this service. Topics on the first page include: “TWCWIFI-Passpoint Modem fails to connect”, “Unable to connect to TWC’s CableWiFi?”, “wifi finder autoconnect problems”, “Time Warner Wi-Fi hotspots do not work”, “Wifi Hospots do not work”, “wifi at my address off —— Blvd been off since”, “Hot spot in Austin disappeared”, “Passpoint not working”, “Unable to sign into TWC hotspots around town”

Then there is public Wi-Fi service which in general is still a complete mess. Free DC Wi-Fi (where I live) is barely dial-up ready. London Wi-Fi is still not worth using over cellular connections. But to be fair, those are just public networks therefore I would agree that it isn’t fair to compare those networks with others by private companies.

Then there is hotel Wi-Fi service which suffers from the same problems today as it did years ago. Slow and/or pricey. Hotel Wi-Fi has become such an unreliable service that a site is setup to help figure whether a hotel’s Wi-Fi network “sucks” or not.

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Or as one writer discovered at a recent stay:

During a recent trip I stayed at a hotel offering free Wi-Fi—always a nice perk. Just one problem: the network was terrible. The connection speed reminded me of my old dial-up modem, but without the consistency. – PCWorld

On the whole, I still find the concept a long, long way off from being an offering worth purchasing. Whether it is Wi-Fi from broadband providers, hotels, etc….those using these networks have yet to find a service worth paying for. Then again, maybe the solution to our Wi-Fi problem is associated with….sheep?