My frequent travels expose me to a common problem: high-cost Internet access away from home. This is not a serious issue in the U.S., where I have a T-Mobile hotspot account and find no-extra-charge Wi-Fi connections in many hotels and other venues.
Outside the U.S., this is not how it tends to work. Outrageously so, in many cases.
I’ve arrived in Ekaterinburg, Russia, a city in the Urals region, on a visit sponsored by the U.S. State Department to visit universities and media organizations here and in the nearby city of Chelyabinsk. My hotel is superb in almost every way, with the one exception you’ll have guessed by now.
The rooms have wireless access, but it costs about US $40 for six hours. At least this is not six hours from the time of first sign-on, but rather for a total of that time logged into the system.
Fortunately, and this is something I often find in such situations, there is a well-equipped business office where I’ve plugged my computer into the hotel’s network. Here I’m getting access at (still not sure yet) either at no cost or a fraction of the in-room charge.
Net access charges abroad are almost as annoying as the ridiculous mobile phone roaming charges. But for those of us who travel for business, the alternative is to be out of touch. Which is no alternative at all — as hotels fully understand.