Over the past eight days I visited London, Munich, Vienna, then Munich again, before returning to New York. During my travels, despite time differences ranging between five and nine hours, it was still necessary to collaborate with colleagues and even attend a few online meetings. Such undertakings require a persistent broadband connection, which is becoming more and more standard in hotels around the world. I am in fact happy to report that, compared to the situation a mere 12 months ago, access is far easier, faster, and more reliable than it had been. This might lull one into a false sense of security, however; what does a road warrior do when he must collaborate online but his connectivity disappears?I started my travels at the American Airlines terminal at John F. Kennedy International Airport. Using the iPass Corporate Access Network, I was immediately online and had enough time to check weather conditions at various destinations. Hours later, I was in London's Heathrow airport, where WLAN is far more pervasive than it was even a scant three months ago (ask me how I know?).
Continuing onto Munich, I soon arrived at my favorite hotel on the Leopoldstraße. Regular readers of this space may recall that, in the past, this hotel was the scene of great frustration and consternation insofar as Internet connectivity was concerned. In fact, during my last stay there, the manager told me that the question of connectivity had gotten so bad it was in the hands of their lawyers.
Each room now had a small box with an Ethernet jack and a WLAN aerial and I was able to easily access the Net via iPass, although the signal strength kept changing rather inexplicably. After attending several virtual meetings, it was midnight and time for bed - I know this because when my connection died I looked at the clock and decided to call it a day.
I merely hoped that the service would return to normal by morning. Happily, it did. But soon it was time to check out, drive to a face to face meeting in Munich, and continue on to Vienna.
Late last Friday, I arrived in Vienna and headed straight for a dinner meeting with a client, so I finally found myself unpacking my computer in my room at the Vienna Marriott Hotel around midnight. The Marriott was listed in the iPass client as having wired broadband support but the first problem was finding the Internet connection in the suite: there was a bedroom, and a combination living room/dining room, but no working area. The interface, as it turned out, was hidden behind the couch near the dining room table so that became the desk. I turned on the computer and - once again, iPass' Corporate Access Network performed flawlessly.
On Sunday, I drove back to Munich, and moved into the ArabellaSheraton Grand Hotel for Siemens' annual analyst conference. The room I was given was nice enough but there was no Wi-Fi signal and no broadband connection. I checked with the front desk. It turned out that this room only had ISDN. A quick chat with the front desk resulted in a room change (admittedly, to one with a much better view) and the new room did indeed have broadband connectivity. However, when I plugged in my computer, nothing happened. The hotel sent a technician to investigate and he discovered that someone had left an ISDN cable connected to the interface. Since I always travel with an Ethernet cable, I plugged that in and - voila - it worked. After the technician left, I discovered that it worked very very slowly.
For unknown reasons, the broadband speed improved remarkably on day three - just in time for a virtual meeting that required a fast connection. Perhaps several dozen power users checked out of the hotel at once.
Later that day, I returned to the U.S. At least I knew that, insofar as high-speed connectivity is concerned, there's no Internet like home.