May 19, 2007

Hotel internet

What is it about hotels and bandwidth? I have had to stay in something like nine different business-class or resort hotels in the past few months. All have boasted 'high speed internet access!' Only one of them has actually had a working network solution in the room when I arrived.

This is not rocket science, people. I'm not complaining about the damn rape-me-for-a-day's charges authorization portals, either. Those are par for the course. I mean I show up, flip open the laptop and (if specified) jack it in to the indicated port with CAT-5 which I've learned to always have with me, or hunt for the specified SSID on 802.11 if not.

Never works.

At the hotel I'm currently at, a golf resort in northern VA near Dulles, there's a wartlike box that comes out the side of the TV cabinet and extends over the edge of the desk. It contains two power outlets and a data jack, and the room cordless phone rests on top. Okay. Plugging into the data jack produced no result. Calling the three different extensions at the hotel that kept referring me to the others produced no result - no link. Finally, in frustration, I opened the TV cabinet and traced cables. Sure enough, there's a standard DSL modem buried underneath the gear, and its output is wired via a built-in CAT-5 to the jack on the wart.

Yank the output and plug my own patch cable directly into the modem? Works.

Oh, until I left the room and came back. Then I didn't have internet service. Couldn't figure out why, I'd authorized the full day charges, until I checked the modem again. It was depowered. This was interesting, since its power adapter was completely hidden behind the TV cabinet, so I couldn't have kicked it or anything. The TV itself was still working.

After ten minutes of bitching, I turned on all the room lights. Yep. They plugged it into a fucking lamp circuit back there.

Other hotels claim wireless, but of course there's only one bar of signal on most of the floor. A couple memorable examples of national chain hotels turned out, on judicious examination of their network when I could get to the wireless net but no further, to have the entire wing of the hotel connected through a single fucking consumer router (a Netgear in one case, and a familiar Linksys in another). In one case, the router was crashed, and the front desk kept adamantly insisting that the network was fine because they could see the SSID. In the second, I managed to reboot the router, which brought service back - for about ten minutes. Then it went away again. Some examination showed that they were routing their damn conference facility through the same device, and it was promptly running out of either DHCP or NAT entries (it would run out of one or the other, depending on what was being run and how many users were online). I got used to logging into it, cycling it, and then nabbing a DHCP entry and opening up three SSH sessions and leaving the machine up so as to ensure there would be resources if I wanted to use them later.

Oh, yeah, in the latter case, they hadn't changed the default manufacturer password. They just were using a different IP range (on the same wireless net!) for 'management.'

Christ.

Posted by jbz at May 19, 2007 3:31 PM | TrackBack

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