On a recent SquawkBox Andy Abramson talked about the problems he has been having with public WiFi — the WiFi in hotels, airports and other public spaces. Backhaul connectivity from many of these hotspots is so poor as to make them nearly useless.
I am experiencing this right now! Travelling to Toronto, we’ve stayed at the Travelodge on King Street West, and found that the advertised free internet to be nearly useless. Luckily there’s a Starbucks a block away for any serious work that needs doing.
Back at the ranch, however, each connection to the web resulted in a 404 page-not-found error. I suspected that not only was their connection slow, but that their DNS server might be overloaded. To correct that I changed DNS service from the hotel provided DNS to the servers provided by http://opendns.com. Their remarkably fast, reliable and free DNS servers can often improve a “slow” connection by simply reducing DNS response time.
OpenDNS helped. However, Dan Elwell’s terrific broadband speed test revealed that actual throughput on this network is measured in small kilobits / second, with over 50% packet loss to west coast destinations, and more than 30% to east coast. Google Canada is tolerably fast, but forget about sites like Techmeme or Facebook. And most certainly, forget about VPN access to the email system at the office.
Travelodge’s ISP is ValuePoint; a misnomer given that their connection is virtually valueless.