It’s been a little over a month since I first started using the Virgin Mobile MiFi 2200 wifi hotspot. I used it almost exclusively as my Internet provider for most of the month of September, and I have to say I continued to be impressed by it throughout the month.
There were a handful of times that I had to reset the device because it stopped responding; and there were one or two instances when I actually had to reactivate it. Other than that, I very rarely had any issues with it at all.
Since I am still stuck with satellite broadband service at home, I decided to try it out. I’ve been looking into mobile broadband packages for quite a while, but the thought of signing a new two-year contract, paying almost as much as I’m paying now (the satellite package I have is $79.95/month – most mobile broadband packages are around $60/month) and being limited to around 2 gigabytes of downloads each month (my current plan allows 17 gigs on a revolving 30-day basis) really didn’t appeal to me.
This new plan from Virgin, though, had me intrigued. No contracts, apparently no bandwidth limits (I have seen no official word from Virgin as to whether there will be “reasonable use” limits imposed at any point, but, right now, it doesn’t look like it) and a price point half of what I am paying now all really appealed to me.
A few months ago, Allen posted an entry at CenterNetworks asking for feedback about what we should expect from Internet connections at hotels. It just so happens that, this evening, I am staying in a hotel in the area around Richmond, Va., which is a rather metropolitan area. When I found out that I was going to have to stay overnight in a hotel, I took solace in the fact that I would be able to access the Internet with, what I assumed would be, a good, fast, reliable Internet connection. Unfortunately, I found that the connection in this particular hotel left a lot to be desired.
I started the evening by connecting to the wireless connection available in my room. I headed over to TNT’s Web site to catch last week’s episode of Leverage, which I missed when it originally aired. For the first 20 minutes or so, the video played fairly well. However, as time went on, it started buffering more and more, eventually getting to the point where it was hardly watchable.
Once I finally made it through, I hooked the ethernet cable to my laptop to try the wired connection. I then headed over to the CBS Web site to try watching some episodes from last season of NCIS (as I’ve mentioned on Twitter, I just recently started getting into NCIS and have been trying to catch up with what’s happened over the last six seasons). I found that the wired connection was actually even less reliable than the wireless connection had been. The video took a long time to load, then started buffering almost immediately. I removed the ethernet cable and hooked back into the wireless network. It got a little bit better, but not enough to make me feel like finishing the episode I had begun.
In all honesty, the connection here is not all that noticeably better than the satellite connection I have at home.
I’m curious what your thoughts and experience might be. Do you think I’m being unreasonable expecting that the Internet connection at a hotel should be good enough to watch online video? In your opinion, is it worth it to have a free Internet connection if you can’t watch online video? Have you experienced similarly disappointing connections in hotels, or do you usually find them to be fast and reliable?