Hotel guests, particularly business travelers, have become used to the availability of free Wi-Fi for their laptops and mobile devices. Soon they may be asked to pay for that luxury.
A number of hotel chains are mulling Wi-Fi charges, USA Today notes.
So far, none have implemented such fees for basic Wi-Fi service, but some, including Marriott International (NYSE:MAR) and Carlson Hotels, have introduced faster Wi-Fi service for a fee in addition to free Wi-Fi service. And Wyndham Hotel Group (NYSE:WYN), owner of Super 8 and Ramada, is considering similar fee-based service options.
Such tiered service plans remain in a sort of testing mode while the chains assess customer reaction.
However, other major hotel chains like Starwood (NYSE:HOT) and Hyatt (NYSE:H) have not indicated any plans to implement Wi-Fi usage fees.
Consumers like the convenience provided by free Wi-Fi, especially with the exploding popularity of smartphones and tablets, which have become common among regular travelers as well as business travelers. But the increased data transmission requires hotels to purchase more bandwidth from Internet service providers (ISPs).
A leading ISP told USA Today that Apple‘s (NASDAQ:AAPL) iPad had spawned a revolution in mobile devices, with users now demanding access to online video, photos and animations, instead of just email and voice communications.
Last year hotel data use per session spiked 50% between March and December, the ISP noted.