How to get around sluggish hotel Wi-Fi

During a recent trip, we stayed at a hotel offering free Wi-Fi – always a nice perk. Just one problem: the network was terrible. The connection speed reminded us of our old dial-up modem, but without the consistency.

Needless to say, it was impossible for us to get our work done, and that was a problem. Fortunately, we’re Boy Scouts when it comes to tech obstacles: always prepared. When faced with flaky hotel Wi-Fi, we try one or more of these six fixes:

1. Ask the front desk to reset the router:  If you can’t get or stay connected, it might just be a router issue. Call the front desk, tell them you can’t get on their network, and ask them to reset the hotel router. Wait five to 10 minutes and then try again to connect.

2. Check for an Ethernet option: Some hotel rooms have an Ethernet port or cord that would allow your laptop to bypass Wi-Fi altogether and just jack into the network. If you need to share that connection with, say, your tablet, try Connectify Hotspot, which acts as a software router on your laptop. Alternately, pack a travel router like the TP-LINK TL-WR702N.
3. Try the lobby: It’s possible the bad connection is simply the result of your room’s distance from the nearest Wi-Fi repeater. Try moving to a conference room or the lobby to see if the situation improves.

4. Pack a pay-as-you-go hotspot: A mobile hotspot gives you Internet access anytime, anywhere. But if you buy one from one of the big carriers, you might get stuck with yet another two-year contract and hefty monthly fees. For occasional and/or “emergency” service, consider a pay-as-you-go hotspot.

5. Use your phone’s hotspot feature:  Most Android phones and all the latest iPhones have a mobile-hotspot (a.k.a. tethering) feature, which can come in mighty handy in a pinch. On an iPhone 5, for example, it’s a simple matter of venturing into the settings and enabling Personal Hotspot, which shares a 4G connection with nearby devices.

6. Find the nearest Starbucks: If all else fails, try a little wardriving: Use your favourite Wi-Fi-finder app to locate the nearest coffee shop, library, or even another hotel that offers wireless Internet, then set up shop to get your work done.

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