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Free Hotel Wifi with Python and Selenium (gkbrk.com)
327 points by janvdberg 9 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 142 comments



There might be an easier workaround for this:

Some hotspots only blocks new TCP connections when that time expires. So I used this workaround a few times in the past:

You open an SSH connection with -D 1337 so it creates a local SOCKS proxy. You need to keep that connection opened.

Then you go to gnome/kde/chrome/whatever and define a global SOCKS proxy to localhost:1337. By doing this, all your new TCP/UDP requests will go through that connection, and the router won't see them as new TCP/UDP connection.

It used to work for some airports and those 20-minutes-free wifi hotspots. But honestly I don't remember last time I had to use it. Nowadays I use mainly 3G on Brazilians airports and, when traveling abroad, I don't remember last time the airport didn't provide a unlimited free wifi.


Another fun one I discovered that on Virgin trains (UK train company) first class get free WiFi. By sitting in the nearest standard class carriage I could manually associate with the access point in first class.

Some hotels have weird setups like free WiFi in the lobby but you have to pay in the room. That trick probably works there, at least for some of the rooms.


It's also worth trying to login to the free wifi in the lobby and roam to the guest room. Often works a treat!


> I don't remember last time the airport didn't provide a unlimited free wifi.

I think you’re finally right.

The NYC airports finally rolled it out.... 2 months ago


It's really rare for a SOCKS5 implemention to support UDP. ssh is included in the does not column.


You're right. UDP connection won't work.


With a DNS tunnel, you can achieve "free Wifi" almost everywhere. Iodine[0] is easy to setup.

[0] https://github.com/yarrick/iodine


Shades of Kaminsky!

How usable is the speed on this?


I just did a little test with iperf:

Over my 4g connection to the 'server' box I get this:

    [  3]  0.0-12.4 sec  1.00 MBytes   676 Kbits/sec
Via an iodine tunnel:

    [  3]  0.0-10.1 sec   178 KBytes   144 Kbits/sec
I did try and hit up fast.com from a ssh -D proxy over the tunnel, but it didn't seem to like that very much.


Thank you!


The bandwidth is asymmetrical with limited upstream and up to 1 Mbit/s downstream.


I thought this was going to be a cool kit for brute-forcing room number/last name pairs which seems to be an increasingly common hotel wifi auth method.

My guess is most hotel wifi access pages lack anti-automation (I've seen CAPTCHA on airplane wifi, but never hotel wifi) and there are enough Smiths/Lopezes/Kims/Lis out there that if you try each of those against every room number (100-1000) you could reasonably get free wifi in minutes. An optimization could include changing MAC address between each attempt to defeat rate limiting on the part of the access point.


> there are enough Smiths/Lopezes/Kims/Lis out there that if you try each of those against every room number (100-1000) you could reasonably get free wifi in minutes

Stolen wifi, since someone will end up getting charged for it.


It's often free, but protected by this combination of number and name. Just check that before trying and you're not really hurting anybody.


In Case it is free there is no reason not to use your name. For privacy you should tunnel your traffic anyways.


Unless you're not staying in the hotel, just visiting, for whatever reason. If I remember correctly, some Vegas hotels worked this way.


Sometimes it’s free for their “diamond members” or whatever, but not for random consumers.


These gateways almost always let you pay for wifi inline. The name/room guards are for people who get complimentary wifi.

Honestly though I stopped going to hotels that don't offer complimentary wifi and breakfast. That means no Hilton or Marriott. All Holiday inn hotels I've dealt with have been scores nicer than the "high end" crap Hilton pretends to be.


Right, you always get nickeled and dimed more at the higher end places because they just assume you can afford it. However not all Hilton places suck. Hilton Garden Inn is pretty good, free breakfast, free wifi, and the rooms are nice. I've been staying in Courtyard Mariotts for work lately. No free breakfast but the rooms are nice.


Thanks for the heads up on garden inn. I will give them a chance next time I see them.

Courtyard was a bit better but I got a similar experience as the Hilton. 5 dollar water bottles in the room, nickel and diming all over the place.

My understanding is that it's not just that you can afford it, it's that these places cater heavily towards corporate stays, so the guest is usually not the one paying.

Holiday inn breakfasts are a bit worse quality but I've always been treated with utmost respect as a guest there, so they get my business. Room size is something I don't usually care about as long as there's a desk.


I’m in a Garden Inn now, never been in a bad one but always seem overpriced to me.

I was pretty impressed with Home2 suites, usually just a bit more than Hampton. No omelette bar but otherwise nice breakfasts with microwaveable sandwiches, and the snacks are pretty cheap instead of $5/water.


I don't think I've ever seen a nicer place charge me actual money for wifi, but usually they force you to sign up for their dumb membership club or newsletter (so, not exactly free either).

My last trip I had a box of those soylent shakes sent ahead of me and just used those for breakfast - reasonably healthy and tasty enough. Better then the free breakfast for my use case anyways.

I'll second Hilton on good customer service though, definitely one of my preferred chains. That and the business oriented Holiday Inn Express or whatever they're calling it now.


It's because high-end hotels have lots of business travelers who don't care what anything costs because they'll just expense it to their work.


I’ve stayed at 30+ different Hiltons this past year, and all but a few had free Wi-Fi. It’s always free if you book direct with them and I’ve never seen Hotels.com selling cheaper than direct (maybe it happens occasionally).

Used to go with Marriott, but they don’t have much inventory outside of major city centers.


I had to fight for free wifi a couple times but I've never seen complimentary breakfast at a Hilton.


Last hilton I was at had comp WiFi and breakfast. It varies


Ah, I see. I've never been to a hotel that didn't have free wifi, so I don't know how they tend to work.


They pretty much suck, you're not missing much.


I've yet to encounter a situation where this auth method isn't gating a free for the guest wifi setup. I do not support defrauding hotel guests, merely defrauding hotels ;)


Thank you for calling this out for what it is. This isn't free wifi. People may believe it should be free or may feel that it's unethical to charge additional fees for access (or even to ever charge for Internet access)—I won't wade into that argument—but taking something by force (whether physical or virtual) isn't the same as it being free.

Edit: Hell, just call it "liberated" wifi ;-)


If you encounter paid WiFi that requires a credit card try the Visa test card number 4111111111111111, cvv 123, and any future exp date. I've seen it work at multiple hotels.


Most of hotels TVs are connected to ethernet cables. Travel always with your own router, disconnect cable from TV and connect to router. You have free internet


I did this for about a year after noticing that the Marriotts I tended to stay at were exposing Ethernet on the new desk/entertainment centers they'd retrofit in the chain. After that year, I started noticing that the ports were dead, usually just unplugged from the wall, but then those started to go out. Eventually, those fancy A/V panels were boarded over with plastic, then eventually fully replaced with plastic insets. But for a short while, it was the promised land, and the moral of the story is that your mileage may vary these days.


Only a small fraction of hotels are wired with Ethernet, and usually it’s the largest hotels in city areas. Even then, I doubt most have Ethernet to the TV.


Wow never thought about that. Have you tried that? Just curious if it is possible reach servers outside hotel's network?


Yup. The eth often has even less security on it than wifi


The whole idea of non-free hotel WiFi is ridiculous. It's like charging extra for tap water you use. It can only make sense if the hotel is really really cheap.


I have found that the more expensive the hotel is to stay at, the greater the chance they charge for wifi/internet access. At cheap hotels they use it to attract customers, at expensive hotels they use it to gouge the customer for a little more. It is usually because expensive hotels know that people staying there for work will expense it, so there is little cost for the user in those situations but the hotel gets some extra income.


> I have found that the more expensive the hotel is to stay at, the greater the chance they charge for wifi/internet access.

A curious observation. Thanks. I'm not really informed about expensive hotels, almost everything I know is about the middle segment.

> At cheap hotels they use it to attract customers

At the hotel market of the region I know guests wouldn't even consider booking a hotel that doesn't list free WiFi (unless it's really fantastic in other aspects and/or unbelievably cheap) and they would put submit a negative review if they came and there was no free WiFi (even if it wasn't advertised and they've just didn't notice), it's like if there was no free water in the WC.

> but the hotel gets some extra income.

And the guest gets some extra headache with authentication and billing instead of just turning WiFi on and using it.


Upsell is real.


Places without free WiFi aren’t meant for the likes of you and me: those that pay their own way. It’s meant for people that are going to expense it. I would never stay at a Hilton property if I were paying. I have to wonder if the staff don’t have a chuckle over the couple “treating themselves” by staying at the Hilton when Best Western offers a better stay for less.


If you sign up for the the Hilton rewards program and book through their site, WiFi is free.

This is common with a lot of chains these days. Free WiFi is a carrot to get you to book through their site so they save agent fees.


Not to mention that it gives an easy way for those of us with status access to a higher tier/priority of internet which is handy for streaming. Particularly when I'm staying in a hotel for over 60 nights a year.


True. Although I mostly have a library on my device anyway because WiFi quality is still often a crapshoot. (And I want downloads for the plane anyway.)


Such a reward. Wow. Now I start wondering if they include free coffee in the breakfast menu or if it's considered a reward you are to earn as well... :-]


When travelling on corporate terms I have to check the "room price" as selection criteria. Extra wifi is a different cost, which is expensed differently. Thus by charging it independently they can make more money (as long as people book WiFi, on domestic (EU) travel I simply use my mobile data, less hassle to setup, all ports open, already paid)

An observation on the side: My travel policy covers a number of "paid movies" depending on the nights travelling. With proper internet that business of hotels finishes and travellers get their pr0n — oh I mean action movies — for free without it appearing on the hotel bill.


You can achieve the same thing (minus the Selenium part) on MacOS with this: https://jezenthomas.com/free-internet-on-trains/

I would paste the code snippet, but it doesn't format nicely on HN.


Indent with four spaces:

    function remac {
      sudo /System/Library/PrivateFrameworks/Apple80211.framework/Resources/airport -z
      sudo ifconfig en0 ether $(openssl rand -hex 6 | sed 's/\(..\)/\1:/g; s/.$//')
      sudo networksetup -detectnewhardware
      echo $(ifconfig en0 | grep ether)
    }
EDIT: Two spaces is enough.


Two spaces indentation is enough afair.


Let me check:

  function remac {
    sudo /System/Library/PrivateFrameworks/Apple80211.framework/Resources/airport -z
    sudo ifconfig en0 ether $(openssl rand -hex 6 | sed 's/\(..\)/\1:/g; s/.$//')
    sudo networksetup -detectnewhardware
    echo $(ifconfig en0 | grep ether)
  }
EDIT: Yep! Two is enough. Thanks!


Ah, I somehow missed that. Thanks!


Does this permanently change to a new Mac every time you run it?


I did the same when visiting Taizé in France, whose free WiFi only lasted for 15 minutes at a time! The Terminal command on a Mac, for WiFi, is:

sudo ifconfig en0 ether xx:xx:xx:xx:xx:xx

At CERN in Geneva I had a different problem: MAC addresses are registered to staff. My dad retired, and his Thunderbolt Ethernet adaptor was still registered. When I plugged it into my laptop, I not only got his MAC address, but also his device name! My shell started calling my computer a different name!

If you're afraid to use Terminal, you can also install the MacSpoofer preference pane:

http://www.macspoofer.com


That's because your mac is configured to accept the hostname given to it via DHCP. You can change that setting if you don't like it.


Isn't this a felony? No seriously. I believe the law is phrased like "if you use a network in a way that it was not intended to be used". It's one of those laws that everyone is guilty of, and people even write blog posts bragging about doing it, but it will be used to bring someone down when they have no other charges that will stick.


CFAA wording is unauthorized access of a _computer_, not a network.


What network equipment these days might not reasonably be described as a computer, even a pretty powerful one by the standards of the time the CFAA was written?

And even if you don't think that's reasonable, how confident are you that a prosecutor couldn't convince a judge and/or jury it is?


Networks are emergent properties of computers on all but the physical level.


Sounds like a classic urban legend to me.


if you use linux and network-manager, check "random mac" box for that connection,

add post-connection-hook to `curl` with post data; use $RANDOM for mail address, even use root.$RANDOM@localhost.localdomain probably it will authenticate you.


If you want to go a step further, you can also use some more nefarious tools to gather mac addresses of clients on the paid network, spoof them and steal their connection. Not that I've ever done that.


I’ve always been curious about this. What happens when that other authorized MAC is also attempting to connect?


I've done that many years ago on a college campus that required you to log in via your student ID on a captive page.


Cant wait to try this on an international flight of 14 hrs. Emirates only gives 2hrs of connectivity/20mb, so will have to do a lot of resets and on an android phone as well.


I have a rule of thumb to not mess around with networking that would annoy a sysadmin when I’m in an enclosed space.

Probably double when you’re on an airline owned by a country that has the death penalty for homosexuality [0] and doesn’t have due process for non-citizens.

[0] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Capital_punishment_in_the_Unit...


Airplanes have a very narrow band for the Internet, and that limited connection has to be shared between the passengers.

Airplane WiFi isn't expensive just because. The more people are on it and the more people exploit it, the shittier it becomes for everyone. It gets drastically worse when flying over water, because ATG (air to ground) transmission isn't possible, and they have to rely on satellite connection exclusively.

The only real solution for in-plane WiFi would be to allocate more frequency space for the purpose. Until that happens, we're doomed to the current situation.


I would be careful doing something that the airline could call "hacking" on a flight!


Please don't. Data on the connections that a flight uses is not cheap and speed is slow. Other passengers would have a worse experience if someone exploits data usage.


I wasn't thinking about the narrow bandwidth available and actual costs. You are right, i am changing my mind since it doesn't seem ethical.


You'll probably run out of it's in the DHCP scope anyway.


Honestly, long plane rides are my time to read books and watch movies. OK, there are sometimes specific circumstances where you need to work on the Internet while flying to a big meeting or whatever. But I avoid it whenever possible. I don't actually need to be online all the time.


You could share your computer‘s Internet connection via Bluetooth.

I find reverse-tethering quite useful when the WiFi provider limits access to one device at a time. With iOS devices I also have the option to use my Mac‘s connection over USB.


Expected something a bit more than a basic MAC change. But I guess simple things work best sometimes - I used to do this on Wi-Fi trains that had a 20MB limit.


This is even more useful on international airports many of which only allow 1hr of free wifi. Are there any macchanger equivalents for Windows as well?


You can use Powershell on Windows I think: https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/powershell/module/netadapte...

You could just call a process from within python that sets it that way


Oh yeah most airports I have been at had bad wi-fi. Some you pay X for an hour, and then still get connection issues..


One time I was stuck in Jomo Kenyatta International Airport for 9 hours for a layover and wrote a similar script, macchanger and all :)


Writing such a script was probably more fun than what you did with the internet connection afterwards :).


Is it irony that one of your interests is "algorithmic ethics"?


The article links https://wiki.archlinux.org/index.php/MAC_address_spoofing

Which says that systemd-networkd can be set to spoof MAC but "needs a reboot", does it really need a reboot or is restarting (or ifdown, reload, ifup) enough?


ifdown and ifup is enough.


XFinity does the same MAC address-based validation, and it can be changed relatively easily on Linux or Windows. As for Mac, a simple script like this: https://github.com/chrislgarry/XFinityHotspotSpoofer


With all of the major carriers offering “unlimited data” in the US, I don’t even bother with WiFi anymore.


Question from a non-American. Why did you put "unlimited data" in scare quotes? Is it not actually unlimited?


It is unlimited but the carriers either throttle the data after you use over a certain number of gigabytes, meaning they slow your data down after $x gigabytes or they “deprioritize” your data. Meaning that if you use over $y gigs and your local tower is congested, your data may be slowed down to prioritize other users.

For T-mobile, they deprioritize your data at 55GB. I’ve never seen it in practice. My older son who doesn’t live with us uses his phone as his only internet connection and easily uses 80GB+ a month. We were at an extended stay for 6 months while we were waiting for our house to be built, and we were going through 70GB each between my younger son using tethering for his PS4 and us using our phones as hotspots for an AppleTV.


YMMV. I had one of the old grandfathered AT&T 'unlimited' plans. Within a short time after they stopped offering this plan to new customers, we started hitting a hard throttle at around 10 GB or something ridiculous like that. Once we hit it (after about two weeks at that time), it made the internet practically unusable for the rest of the billing cycle. Forget about streaming music or games - let alone video - there was a long wait even for text sites to load.

We have since changed plans and I have been leery of the u-word ever since.


I had to use a hotspot for a month and I went through 100gb without trying. Big parts were the 1-2GB OS updates on various computers and phones that download automatically. Docker that pulls the entire world. Netflix and YouTube bingeing for a saturday afternoon. And at one point the PS4 downloaded the Mad Max v1.06 update at a whopping 28 gigabyte without asking for permission.


Usually "subject to a fair use policy". In other words, it's limited, but they don't tell you the limit up front.


Typically you still have a limit on LTE. Something around 4GB of LTE data before getting dropped to UMTS with no cap.


UMTS is basically being capped though.


I have a 3G subscription and have no problem getting 10 megabit/s on tethering. That is enough for 1080p Netflix/YouTube and easily enough for webbrowsing.


Ah, my mistake, I switched GRPS and UMTS in my head. In my country, you are being capped to GPRS speed when your limit is reached.


Technically unlimited but usually throttled after ~10GB or so in my experience.


It is unlimited, but it's much slower after you hit the limit.


Almost 2019 and we still have to fight these abusive charges. Nice, elegant way to work around it!


I built this little script a few years ago if someone finds it useful. Works for MAC and it changes your MAC address. ~>

https://github.com/otobrglez/mac_changer


For OS X there’s a nice little menubar app called LinkLiar: https://halo.github.io/LinkLiar/


I think i expected something more advanced, but in reality I really love how simple/few lines of code such a task can be accomplished. It's a great reminder to keep things simple.


Simple, effective, I'm surprised this works in this day and age.


Under macOS, you can do as follows:

https://www.crstin.com/en/mac-spoofing/


The macchanger idea also works at other free-ish wifi places like Panera Bread: your session is limited to about a half hour. New MAC, new session...


You don't even need Python or Selenium anymore, Windows 10 includes a built in MAC changer from Device manager.


My question is how did he/she know that it was the MAC address that the WiFi used ?


"And a router tells devices apart is by their MAC addresses"

There is no other identifiable information a router can get out of a device without authentication


That sounded wrong to me (I like a challenge), and of course some clever guys have already been and got at least 94% success at remote device fingerprinting.

See p.1702 and use of carrier frequency offset (CFO) for fingerprinting, this paper discusses other methods and auth of AP/devices too; https://www.cs.ucr.edu/~zhiyunq/pub/infocom18_wireless_finge... .


In most implementations, MAC addresses are the only indication of the device


Will changing MAC work if there is a password for login for internet for 2 hours?


Not if the password is unique for you, and they key it off of use of that password. Then they just deny ANY mac address using that password.


It's 2000 + 18 and people are still using ifconfig :)


If it’s still available - why not use it?


When I need to access free wifi behind a paywall (get more time, more speed, more features...), I usually go `arp -a` and try to change my MAC address with one already present on the network, no reset needed. Works with hotels, airports, etc... Not very ethical though...


What is it with Hotels and shitty, restricted wifi in the west?

I can't say I've stayed in a lot of hotels, but of the ones I have stayed in, it's only ever been an issue in the West.

Perhaps that's a part of the reason I enjoy holidays in East Asia. I get the feeling wifi there is a just a thing, you get access to it, it works. And nearly all the hotels I've stayed in also offer a free phone that you can take with you if you need data outside of the hotel.

Yet, in the west, you're lucky if you get some paltry free allowance. For a business who's aim is "make your stay enjoyable" they're doing a pretty shit job of it.


My experience is, the more business traveler oriented the hotel, the more likely you'll be charged for WiFi.

My theory is, often companies have a limit for room prices for their employees, but WiFi fees count additional other expenses so they won't matter for the selection of the hotel.

So as a business traveler you don't care to be charged 20$/day for WiFi, your employer will pay for it. Hotels make nice extra money. Only "normal" guests who care, will be annoyed.

In medium tier Hotels and especially Hostels all around the world I never experienced any WiFi restrictions.


> My experience is, the more business traveler oriented the hotel, the more likely you'll be charged for WiFi.

I've had the opposite experience. My wife and I usually stay at Hampton Inn or Hilton properties on vacation, two star "business traveler oriented" locations with free breakfast and free low-speed WiFi. It's fast enough for everything except streaming video in HD, and we always bring a Raspberry Pi with a thumb drive full of TV shows and/or movies we want to see while on vacation. Most of the places we've stayed even had free HBO/Showtime for when we want to watch something random.

Conversely, for our fifth anniversary we stayed at a luxury suite for the weekend, and we had to pay for any WiFi whatsoever, and for breakfast (admittedly a much nicer breakfast experience than other hotels).


You are saying the same thing.

It boils down to: Mid-price hotels often have free wifi. Expensive hotels charge much more often. Cheap hotels are a tossup.


My experience as a business traveler is basically: 5-10 years ago I had to pay really expensive Wifi, today I haven't paid any Wifi for a long time.


Business travellers typically have a contract thru their employer with the hotel that covers the wifi. They almost never pay for wifi as an additional charge. The wifi charge is because these business type hotels attract few people who would pay for wifi, so might as well make them pay for it. Free wifi, in essence, is not a marketable amenity for these hotels.


I travel a lot and I don't remember the last time I paid for WiFi anywhere aside from the occasional mandatory "resort fee" that covered a number of things including WiFi. It's true that a number of chains waive WiFi only if you are a member of a rewards program and book through their site but I always do so.


WiFi in China, in general, was incredibly shitty and I have been in hotels in 'the west' where I'd get 50 mbit, but I have also had crappy wifi experiences. So I think you get shitty internet in both east and west, as is to be expected when 50 or more devices try to stream Netflix at the same time on the same internet connection.

Luckily, in the EU at least, you can roam with your own 4G connection everywhere and having a 120 KB/s connection is a thing of the past.


Exactly. Of the 6 or so different resort hotels i have visited in the canary islands etc, maybe one had good wifi/internet. But since the EU rules changed, i just connected via 4G - problem solved.


in eu you can roam free but unlimited is limited, i had a unlimited connection in my country but in roaming its 10gb


It still beats paying €5/MB like in the olden days.


My theory is that these hotels were the very first to get wifi, when it was a premium feature. Because it works or perhaps because of contractual obligations with their service provider, they're reluctant to change their model now.

The hotels in East Asia got wifi later, where it was easier to set up and therefore more likely to be offered for free.


Also, East Asia skipped wired internet completely and went straight from nothing to mobile.

And internet is cheap, really cheap, in East Asia. I'm in Vietnam at the moment and my gf got a SIM card for unlimited 4G/LTE data for 15 days (the length of a visa-free visit here) for $8. That's the expensive foreigner price. I didn't even bother getting a SIM - she hotspots me on the rare times we're somewhere that there isn't free WIFI.

I was in Cambodia earlier in the year, and was paying US$1/week for effectively-unlimited data (250Gb each week). Thailand is a bit more pricey for farang, but still not bad. Australia was AU$1/day for 30Gb over 30 days. It's not a huge expense, but the difference is noticeable.

I think it's the nature of the market. There's no way that SE Asians would pay Western prices for internet, so the price comes down.


> East Asia skipped wired internet completely and went straight from nothing to mobile.

In those countries you mentioned yes. Cambodia isn't representative for SEA, it's a very poor and poorly managed country. Go to Malaysia and Singapore and physical infrastructure is common.

> That's the expensive foreigner price. > Thailand is a bit more pricey for farang

Not sure why you are paying "foreigner price" for sim-card/data in Thailand or Cambodia. You can just go to any shop and you will be charged the same price as anyone else.

> There's no way that SE Asians would pay Western prices for internet, so the price comes down.

A few other things to note:

* There is no net neutrality in these countries, data packages includes 'unlimited' or big data allowances restricted to Facebook/Youtube.

* Data connection is great in cities like Phnom Penh but as soon as you get out on the countryside you are back to a slow 3G connection (improving though). So: it's a lot cheaper to build infrastructure for a limited area.

* Cambodia is a very flat country making it a lot easier to build mobile networks compared to some European countries or in the US.


It's a common experience to go to a 7/11 in Bangkok and try to buy one of the cheaper top-up packages, and then get told they're not available. Only the expensive ones are available. Yet strangely the cheap ones are available for locals.

Also, people don't seem to have any objections to mobile towers being built near them. In the UK & Australia there's a lot of NIMBYism and fear about mobile towers being built near schools (especially). It can get really expensive to build a tower in a rich suburb.


Ok, haven't had that experience but I haven't really stayed in the very backpacker/touristy areas in BKK lately. Also I usually go to a phone company store and just buy the sim and top up enough for my short stay there.


> The hotels in East Asia got wifi later

Nope. I had wifi in most guesthouses, hotels and cafes when backpacking SEA in 2007. Back in Europe a year later or NYC in 2010 it was still difficult to find wifi in hotels and cafes. Hotels would have a LAN-connection though.


>wifi ... was a premium feature

Which millennium are we talking about?


Wifi isn't all that much older than our current millennium, Mister Time Traveller from the distant future.


I think you mean decade or something? 'Cause even in the states I remember when we finally setup Wi-Fi in the mid to late 2000's and that was still not too long ago... I guess it didn't feel like a premium feature to people who bought it for their home, but for a hotel who has to rely on their ISP to setup everything for them, it definitely is a premium service.

I wouldn't be surprised if the contracts hotels have are pay per use, so they barely pay much to have the services. Why change that model and give everyone free Wi-Fi. It's the cheaper motels that usually offer free Wi-Fi.


>https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wi-Fi

>Introduced September 1998; 20 years ago


I remember going to Los Angeles in 2006 and having to wardrive and set up camp behind a Chinese restaurant to get free WiFi.


I once stayed in a hotel 11 years ago with an ethernet cable which was awesome.

My guess would be the time they installed it. Those that were early had to pay more for the hardware and agreements and saw it as an optional extra charged at a premium.

Now that it's a commodity, the cost of hardware has reduced and simply giving a wifi password is simple for new installations. But those who did it earlier may not justify replacing it for something that's free, because what they have 'works' for them.

I'm probably wrong, but wouldn't be surprised.


it's no better for me Japan, Thailand, Indonesia, ... slow, bad signals, stupid captive portals serving no purpose.


I’m staying at a hotel in Hong Kong right now with horrible, shitty WiFi. So not just a “west” problem it seems...


The more expensive the hotel the greater the chance they charge for WiFi access.


More an issue in the US than "the West" in general


Don't kid yourself. I know places in Europe where they charge you extra for the AC remote control. I wish I was joking.


Well, bad hotels exist everywhere, but this specific wifi issue is more American from my experience


All the hotels I’ve stayed in Asia have had paid WiFi


[flagged]


... to do something mildly unethical, in a way which, if it became very common, would change the marketplace unpredictably and certainly not necessarily for the better.

You were being sarcastic, but it does fit right in.




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