USA Today: Nearly a third of travelers today use three mobile devices - a smartphone, laptop and tablet computer (Apple iPad) - on hotel Wi-Fi systems vs. a single one just three years ago, according to hotel broadband provider iBahn.
And not only are people carrying more devices, but they're watching more content on them, iBahn CEO David Garrison says. In just the last 15 months, iBahn's seen data usage in an average online hotel session in its customer hotels skyrocket 150% - growth that Garrison links directly to the growth in iPad sales, which is why he's spending so much time talking about the "iPad revolution" these days.
So what does the "iPad revolution" mean for Wi-Fi loving hotel guests?
At the moment, he says it means slow Internet at peak times.
"It's changing the Internet experience, creating a tremendous traffic jam - not just in hotels and airports, but anywhere you access the Internet," Garrison says.
You may come across slow Internet even just to check your email "because all of us are being slammed by demand for video." In the long run, he argues, the demand for bandwidth will too great for many hotels to keep providing travelers with free, unlimited Internet.
Even though many limited-service chains by Marriott, Hilton, Starwood, Hyatt and other hotel giants currently require hotel owners to offer free Internet, Garrison says that in the future he expects hotels will be forced to adjust their pricing. One example he envisions: Guests who need to check email would still be able to access the Internet for free, but those wanting to watch Bridesmaids or adult-content titles would be required to pay extra.
"We saw a dramatic increase in the amount of Internet content per session," he says. "That's why we think this iPad revolution has begun to lead to the death of free (unlimited) Internet."