Hotels are at a crossroads because of the iPad, says a report from the New York Times. Travelers armed with iPads are taxing WiFi internet connections and causing problems for hotels that want to provide reliable internet service for their visitors.
This bandwidth crunch is the result of iPad owners who use their tablet to stream video, browse the internet and work remotely from their hotel room. David W. Garrison, the CEO of iBAHN, a global provider of digital information systems for hotels, says hotel bandwidth consumption has increased threefold in the past year alone. Dedicated internet service providers can handle this increase, but many hotels have slow internet connections that are easily swamped by this jump in consumption. And this is only the beginning of the iPad problem for hotels. Apple confirmed it has sold 11 million iPads in the past three months and the Gartner Group predicts the total number of iPads in circulation will rise to 100 million by the end of 2012.
Hotel owners will have to decide whether they want to continue offering WiFi service to their visitors that's inexpensive to provide, but excruciatingly slow or pay to upgrade their bandwidth and institute a paid tiered service for their customers. Customers might frown on paying a meter-based fee, but many don't like encountering poor internet connectivity when traveling either. Over 2/3rds of business travelers surveyed by iBahn said they would not return to a hotel that had a poor internet connection. According to Garrison, only 10 to 15% of hotels offer tiered service; for the remaining 85 to 90%, it's time to cough up the cash to improve connectivity or stop offering a dysfunctional service that's hurting their business.