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Monday, February 25, 2008

Getting Connected in London to WiFi

Part of the lack of frequent, daily posting this week – in addition to being on vacation is the fact that I have found it absolutely unreasonable to get any sort of Internet connection here in the United Kingdom.

Why do I say unreasonable?

Simply the charges for one to get connected to the Internet. Everywhere I am with my laptop – mainly Trafalgar Square – the fee to connect to any sort of Wifi service is about ₤15, or about $30 USD for a 24 hours connection. Even in the Hilton Hotel in Trafalgar Square. This was not even the highest price, I saw one of the hotspots for wifi internet connectivity at ₤18 for the 1 day period. Outrageous.

A British Telecom (BT) service did have it as cheap as ₤5 for 500 minutes of service, however that required a 12-month commitment. A little longer than what I required for this trip.

What perhaps makes this even more frustrating is that during one of the soccer matches we saw on a television – broadband Internet services was being advertised for as low as ₤8.95/month for the service. Somebody is making some real money on these 24-hour connections.

The only brief respite that I had is that over the weekend the restaurant across from the Trafalgar Hilton Hotel, the “Albannach’ – an upscale Scottish Bar & Eatery was offering free Internet access that I could connect to from our hotel room. Probably anyone in Trafalgar Square could connect for free.

It was great to get some reservations in order and send out a couple of emails to let family know that we had arrived safely in London, England. As I mentioned above, the relief was only brief because when attempting to connect on Monday morning – I was then prompted for a username / password to connect to the Albannach restaurant’s WiFi system.

Apparently their system was not meant to be quite as open as I found it over the weekend. While I am not sure if you will receive the username / password if you join, or if the username / password is intentional – if you’re ever in the Trafalgar Square area, you may want to try the Albannach to see if they really do offer free Internet service.

Otherwise, you are going to pay through the nose if you do not have a wireless broadband service and need to connect briefly to a WiFi service. I am hoping that the experience will be a little different in Paris.