How Many Devices Should Be Included With “Free” Hotel Wifi?

Over the past several years we’ve seen hotels globally make great strides when it comes to free wifi. I remember when most hotel loyalty programs didn’t even offer free wifi to elite members, let alone to other guests.

Meanwhile nowadays the major hotel chains offer free wifi to virtually all guests who book directly with them. What I find interesting, however, is that most hotel programs don’t clarify in their terms how many devices are included with that “free wifi,” which seems like something they’d standardize.

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In other words, is a hotel staying true to the terms & conditions if they offer free wifi on just one device? Technically yes, I suppose, though perhaps not in spirit.

Anyway, I’ve never been in a situation where I’ve had more devices to connect than I was allowed to, though I’m staying at a hotel right now that limits guests to three devices per room on a single “fee” (even if that “fee” is free wifi, apparently).

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Assuming two people are traveling together you’d think that four devices would be the absolute minimum. Ford and I both have smartphones and laptops, so it seems reasonable for them to be connected for “free.”

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So while I think four devices is fair-ish, given how much technology has advanced, I think six sounds right for a room with two guests. It should be reasonable for each person to have a smartphone, tablet, and laptop.

Like I said, I’ve never put much thought into this, because I’ve never had an issue with this until now. However, three devices seems especially stingy to me.

When it comes to “free” in-room wifi, how many devices do you expect to be able to connect with?

Comments

  1. I agree that 4 is reasonable. I rarely connect my phone to the Wi-Fi unless I’m in another country.

  2. There should be no limit on device count. Maybe reasonable to limit bandwidth to a room, but not the number of devices, which in any case could be circumvented by setting all of your devices MAC addresses equal.

  3. I ran into this at a Carlson hotel in Istanbul. There were 3 of us in the room, each with phone + tablet. We didn’t know there was a limit on devices until one person wasn’t able to connect. We were only there 2 nights so it wasn’t a huge deal but when the hotel asked for feedback this was definitely something I mentioned.

    I’m with you that a minimum of 2 devices per guest is what I’d expect. And I’d like to see 2 bedside outlets for these devices become standard too.

  4. Every time I have run into this, I have called down to the front desk and they have either been able to raise the limit or give us an additional code.

  5. Spent last weekend in Vegas with the hubby. The big MGM-owned resort allowed 2 devices per 24-hour period. Not even per calendar day. So to use your laptop, you’ll need to wait 24 hours from the last time you logged on on your phone.

    I can sort of understand a hotel not wanting you using multiple devices simultaneously, for bandwidth reasons. But once I’ve logged off on one, charging me to log on with another is crazy. For that reason alone, I’ll never stay there again. I can’t see policies like this being a win for the properties in the long run.

  6. We used to pay for one device, then 1 device was free, now it’s 3 devices free with a charge for faster speed or more devices. Looks to me like we’re on our way to unlimited bandwidth for an unlimited number of devices. Be patient, it’s coming.

  7. In non-aspirational hotels, they just run open WiFi so you can connect all the devices you want without logging in. They have to provide good service because otherwise the competition will beat them by providing good service.

    Expensive hotels see nickel-and-diming you with bad service as a revenue center.

  8. I’d say all of them.

    In this day and age all hotels should offer “free” wifi to everyone. Build a buck or two into the rate if you must. But these separate fees are kind of ridiculous. And as noted it’s the higher end hotels that really charge for something that ought to be included at no extra charge. I guess they figure everyone is on a expense account or something.

  9. This makes me crazy that Hilton limits to 3 devices, although it makes sense when it is only one person in the room however it really should be 3 per registered guest as you said above.

  10. In a hotel right now that only allows 3, and it’s already slow speed for just 1.

    Often now, Hyatts I stay at have a maximum of 99 devices, which is great 🙂
    Then again, Hyatts in general are better at going above and beyond to value their customers…

  11. Shangri-La Bangkok and Makati Manila don’t even have the usual surname/room number authentication last couple of times I’ve stayed there, which is less complicated and much appreciated. Just accept the T&Cs and you’re there.

    As I’m usually solo in the room, 3 devices is about right for me – laptop, tablet, phone.

  12. My normal travel complement is five – two laptops, a phone, an Amazon Tap, and a Fire TV stick. Usually I stay at IHG hotels where you just click “accept” and there is no limit. The other approach is to use a legacy wired connection (which is often MUCH faster since everyone else is slurping down Netflix every night, at the same time, crushing the router) and have a laptop act as a hotspot.

  13. 6 minimum. When 2 of us travel we need 6. Two of us have 5 Apple devices and one laptop. I always carry 2 iPhones and 1 iPod. I use the iPod to download email – does everything an iPhone does when connected to WiFi – including receiving Cell phone calls to one of my 2 cell phones. Yes, while Apple masks the phone feature on the iPod – it is still there and you can receive and make phone calls from it.

    Marriott allows 5 devices.

  14. Amateurs — You should be traveling with a travel router!

    By using a travel router, you:
    1) Only need to sign into the hotel’s WiFi once. All of the devices masquerade under the IP of the travel router
    2) Your devices only need to be paired with your travel router, no more 100+ useless WiFi APs in your phone’s list
    3) Gain a firewall between you & the hotel’s internet
    4) Are connected via an encrypted WiFi connection to your travel router.
    5) Can share files between all of your devices, behind your firewall. Some of the travel routers even have built-in file servers
    6) Don’t have to put up with sucky, slow WiFi in a hotel. Normally it’s the hotel’s APs that are hosed, while their hardwired internet is still speedy.

  15. When I travel with my kids we usually have at least 6 devices connected and very rarely have we run into a limit in the suite hotels we frequent. I recently stayed in a hotel in NYC with a friend and we had a 2 device limit which was ridiculous

  16. No limit in terms of quantity of devices, but do traffic management so a group of people don’t overload the capacity.

  17. Marriott properties allow six devices for premium internet. The Hyatt Regency Dulles lets you use up to 99 devices for premium internet.

  18. I recently traveled to Cairo to present findings on several studies I did for an international human rights organization. It turns out that the hotel room’s wifi usage was limited to 2 devices per 24-hour period. My husband and I were traveling together. He was trying to work remotely and I was revising my three presentations and trying to print and download them to portable devices. In all, we needed Wifi for 6 devices. It was quite confusing attempting to track which devices were online at any given time considering that we had signed on with different devices at different times of day. After two days of the hotel struggling with how to solve the issue and me working in the Executive Lounge “after hours”, I was finally able to convince them to just upgrade my room. Problem solved – I was supposed to receive an upgrade anyway! Free Wifi use is one hotel loyalty benefit that should be standard and unlimited. Hotels trying to save a few dollars while frustrating their customers is not worth the trouble it creates. Loyal customers understand the difference between access and unlimited Wifi use and will expect the latter. Next time, I’ll bring a travel router and ensure that all upgrades are processed prior to arrival. Normally I have the time to wait until hotel mgmt. approves the upgrade upon arrival. However, I think I’ll save myself the headache and make sure that the booking is upgraded in advance. When you’re working on the road, you don’t need the stress of having to come up with creative ways to get the free wifi use you need.

  19. Don’t think there should be a limit. With children, four is not enough. Just with two parents, one teenager, definitely need six.

  20. You’re not there yet, Lucky, but when you start traveling with children, you will need to connect more than just four devices. The teenager may have a phone and Chromebook, the tween may have an iPad, plus each grownup will have his or her own set of devices. Note that one of the (many, many) benefits of getting a connecting room is that your ‘allowance’ for the number of devices you can connect is doubled.

  21. I usually travel with 2 phones, a laptop, and a tablet or two, so 3 doesn’t even come close to being enough.

  22. 2 per person should be enough if you can disconnect/remove them. I rarely use tablet, phone and laptop at the same time. Though I’m not sure if there really is an actual use for small limits, how many people abuse these and is it a problem?

  23. Ditto on the travel router – I don’t even think about device count. I use a Hootoo Trip mate model, like was mentioned above. Works great, though a little tricky to set up if you’re not tech-savvy. My friend and I both use different models and love em. I use the basic model and I won’t go anywhere without it. http://www.hootoo.com/network-devices.html Find them on Amazon!

  24. wMe and my partner have the same issue, typical each of us would have 4-5 wifi devices (among our iPhones, iPods, MacBooks, kindles). We always travel with a travel router, so we register the router once and we can have all our devices connected.

  25. These days, I would say six minimum (phone, tablet, lappy in a room for two) – but honestly, there really shouldnt be a limit at all. We live in a world that is increasingly connected. Hotels should keep up with the times. I cannot imagine being a family of four trying to travel these days.

  26. I think the fact that they limit is ridiculous. Either offer free wifi for all or charge for wifi, don’t come with this sugarcoated free wifi offer but BTW it’s only for 2 devices per day. So annoying! What also sucks is when you put your phone to sleep then open it up again and you suddenly have to log into wifi AGAIN. urgh. #firstworldproblems i know but still

  27. There is no need to buy a travel router, or pay a dime to have unlimited Internet for all your devices. I use the free version of Connectify. Once I connect my laptop, then I have unlimited connections for all of my devices. I especially like using this on planes because I can share my wifi connection with my seatmate and the flight attendants if I want.

  28. Providing internet fast enough to permit both productivity and entertainment to a hotel is an incredible expense. So the demands are free, fast, and infinite device count. The hotel has to install expensive hardware in a complex environment – and will need to upgrade that investment as technology evolves, all while paying for bandwidth.

    A hotel with decent connectivity is spending more on your internet access then on washing the hotel bedsheets between guests -perhaps we’re being a tad demanding, especially for a service we demand should be free.

  29. Hotel wifi isn’t safe anyhow, use a tiny hardware firewall for safety, and then connect as many devices as you want.

  30. This is a pretty frustrating situation. When I travel for work, I’ll have 3 devices between work & personal laptops plus my phone. If Anna and the kids are with me, OMG… devices galore! We often find ourselves having to disconnect one to start service on another. Totally a PITA.

  31. Hi

    Every time I have run into this, I have called down to the front desk and they have either been able to raise the limit or give us an additional code.

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