How to cope with too slow Wi-Fi at hotel?

  • So many hotels I stayed at (3~4 stars ratings) provided too slow Wi-Fi. The speed is somewhere around 2~3Mbps, and it frequently falls down to <200Kbps.

    However, once you find that your hotel provides such a terrible Wi-Fi environment, is there anything still that you can take an action there? In hotel search websites, many hotels are tagged with Free Wi-Fi or even Hi-Speed Wi-Fi but it is not reliable in my experience.

    Note that I'm not asking for whether it is possible to know the quality of Wi-Fi at hotel in advance, which has been posted in this question. What I ask here is how you can deal with it when you find your hotel provides a terrible Wi-Fi.

    Usually, I get through it by going into cafe with Wi-Fi. But still, the cafe might not provide you with a good connection. Also I want to use my Mac in midnight, when most cafes are not open in general.

    I also make sure to contract a local SIM with 4G/LTE and tethering capability, but still, the tethering fails to connect too frequently in many cases.

    This is what is happening on me right now in Shanghai, that the hotel's is terrible, all cafes I tried (including Starbucks) suck, and China Unicom 4G/LTE is too slow even without VPN. It's really stressful...

    So is there still anything I can do to assure the good network environment? (except changing the hotel which I do once the current booking ends)

    My point is that I want to use my Mac whenever I want (including midnight), since it is a part of my job (working while traveling). The minimum requirement is a stable access to GitHub and Stack Overflow and fast google search responses. I don't need much speed (around 7 ~ 10Mbps is sufficient) but cannot tolerate <2Mbps, since it takes me to wait for so long. For me, the stable, undisconnected network is far more important than the speed and latency, once it is above 3Mbps. I don't download/upload large files at once (e.g. videos or hi-res pictures or big softwares, those with >500MB).


    If a list of countries is required, I ask for Hong Kong and China (Shanghai/Beijing). But this occurred in Singapore and Japan as well. South Korea never bothered me in this regard, though, as the major cities are full of terrific Wi-Fi cafes.

    Whatever the solution, make sure to mention the wifi speed in your review. It's usually extremely hard to find in advance so any review helps.

    There is no magic bullet, no one wifi to rule them all. When you travel you are always at the mercy of the local ISPs, hotels with too many guests for their broadband pipe and overloaded cellular networks. You have to modify your data usage habits to match the environment. Or change your travel habits to match your data needs.

    One point: Don't forget about **good old Ethernet**. At some - not all - hotel rooms, there's an old-fashioned ethernet port on the wall. (As well as the wifi.) By way of example at the Shangrila in HK. if your laptop is old-fashioned enough that it has a ethernet port, you can often get a fantastic surprise by just plugging in, and hence getting fantastic speed.

    The problem might be China. Accessing foreign websites from China is incredibly slow in general because of the great firewall.

    Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat.

    I have never had this happen in Japan, but the advice would be, change your booking and never go back.

    @JoeBlow "Old-fashioned"? Pretty much all laptops except for the ultrathin ones have Ethernet ports. And for those there are also USB adapters

    hey @JopV. they seem to have largely removed them from the "Apple" product line

    @JoeBlow Apple has adapters, cheap and small and white, no problemo.

    Just another possible solution (if you are not downloading content, simply browsing). You could possibly use TeamViewer or something like it to connect to you home computer. Then browse the web or do as you need on it. The only connection bandwidth in use for the slow internet should then just be the TeamViewer connection. I have used this method a few times before, though the image is laggy web pages actually load.

    Does "slow" mean latency (ping), bandwidth or both? Can you give us some actual numbers, e.g. from Ookla speedtest.net?

    Suffering from Internet withdrawal?

    @TessellatingHeckler I know and downloaded it in Dash. But I rarely use it as it is poor in UI. Especially when I want to know something I type in the question field to get similar, already-posted ones, but these tricks don't work in Dash.

    @smci It's bandwidth. I don't have my latest results in hand but it is something like 143 ping and 0.23 Mbps download.

    Similar to what @JoeBlow said, Ethernet is a very good option. But because many new laptops are ultrathin or maybe you only are travelling with your tablet / phone I find the best option is bringing a portable router with you. I love the D-Link DIR-510L, which you can also use to charge your devices.

    Finally there's an xkcd for this question.

    I can't even manage 1Mbps in my own home. #FirstWorldProblems

  • Fiksdal

    Fiksdal Correct answer

    5 years ago

    At first, I thought it would be sort of difficult to answer this. The only options are hotel WiFi and 4G/LTE, and it's not always easy to do much about the speed of those. (Except for the fact that the speed given by various 4G/LTE carriers may vary, so you could check reviews of those before picking your carrier.)

    Then I remembered something called Speedify. It's a multi-platform service which utilizes channel bonding to allow you to fuse multiple internet connections into one.

    By using a technology known as channel bonding Speedify makes it possible to spread individual packets amongst multiple Internet connections. By splitting all your web traffic at the packet-level even large single socket transfers such as VPNs, streaming movies, and uploading and downloading files can be given a major speed boost!

    This would allow you to be connected to an LTE mobile connection and the hotel WiFi at the same time. If speed is very important to you, you could even join multiple LTE connections together. Of course, for that, you'd need multiple LTE modems and SIMs. That would, of course, increase your expenses. But then, you're asking for high-speed internet while traveling, which is not going to be free in any case.

    You mention that both LTE and WiFi speeds are unstable and fluctuate. Being connected through multiple connections at the same time would be a good protection against this, as you'd maintain an acceptable speed even when one of your connections goes slow or disconnects altogether.

    Speedify review from Macworld. (4/5)

    Speedify review from TechVise. (9.1/10)

    Speedify review from PC World. (Generally favourable.)

    As you have now noted in a comment, this also doubles as a VPN, which may also be useful in certain countries.

    You get 5 GB of free usage per month. After that, it's $8.99 per month or $49.99 per year.

    Disclaimer: I'm not affiliated with Speedify. (Although I realize this answer probably reads a little bit like I am.)

    Here is a trick: although Wi-Fi only doesn't get you much boost, Wi-Fi with LTE saves your life. So connect to a phone via tethering, not to the Wi-Fi in the room, and you get the good speed on a computer.

    Moreover, this works as a VPN, too, so you can just ditch your VPN while in China; it's more or less the same cost, a perfect solution!

    Well that's very interesting and timely +1. It's all a crap shoot, I was in a hotel in Anhui province that had incredibly fast internet. I downloaded 70G in the short time I was there (just for one meeting) just with the regular Wifi. Others will drop 5x before you can get your lousy 50-100 text emails. By the way, some VPN related stuff is blocked in China (the sites not just the VPN itself) so it's probably a good idea to prepare in advance.

    @Blaszard now THAT is some awesome news. Will have to check it out next time I'm in the Middle Kingdom.

    Joined just so I could upvote. Thank you for this :)

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Content dated before 7/24/2021 11:53 AM