Wi-fi …add value, don’t be an opportunist

Steve MacAlpine —  March 4, 2013

Tourists-and -wifi

We need to present visitors to Australia with a positive and world competitive internet experience.

This is a bit of a rant as a result of a recent trip from Sydney to Melbourne for the Aime conference. It drove home some unfortunate truths about the state of Australian connectivity.

1. Wi-fi …add value, don’t be an opportunist

Sure I agree that ‘free’ is a misnomer. Somebody has to pay something and there has to be download limits.

The big difference is it that many companies are being opportunistic rather than seeing wi-fi as an opportunity to value add, build customer loyalty and generate positive word of mouth for their business and Australia in general.

Given the lagging Australian internet speed stats that are detailed below, you would excuse many tourists from feeling that they were being asked to pay a lot for an average internet experience.

Looking at Tourism as just one category…

As an international tourist would it be too much to expect that there would be an Australia wide airport W-Fi policy ?

On my recent trip ….

Wi-Fi was free at Sydney Airport yet Melbourne Airport charges $4.00 for 15 minutes and $20 for 120 minutes!

It’s not just the cost, it’s the inconvenience of having to sign in and pay while you are in transit.

There are no language translations for tourists.

What exactly are we getting for those ever increasing airport taxes ?

Melbouren-airport-wireless charges

My hotel offered Broadband on their website yet they neglected to say that they charge for Broadband.

$9.95 for an hour or $19.95 for a day!  Some of the 5 star hotels are charging even more for their daily rates eg Hilton and the Park Hyatt @ $29

australian-hotel-wireless- charges

More and more hotels overseas regard free wi-fi as essential if they are to be competitive

According to hotels.com, one of the world’s biggest online accommodation booking sites:

Free Wi-fi  – “It is overwhelmingly factored into the decision.”

  • 38% of travellers reported that free wi-fi played a part in their decision as a “must” to stay at a specific hotel,
  • 35% reported it was the simple amenity they wanted to see more in hotels.
  • 31% said they wished it would become a standard in all hotels in 2012.
  • In Asia more than 70% use social media for destination inspiration (so good connectivity is essential)

2. The Australian connection speed ranks #40

The most recent ‘State of the Internet’ study shows that Australia continued to slide down the list of speediest internet-connected countries last year, with few internet users enjoying downloads fast enough to stream high-definition movies.

GLOBAL AVERAGE INTERNET SPEEDS
1. South Korea: 14.7 Mbps
2. Japan: 10.5 Mbps
3. Hong Kong: 9 Mbps
4. Switzerland: 8.7 Mbps
5. Latvia: 8.7 Mbps
6. Netherlands: 8.5 Mbps
7. Czech Republic: 7.6 Mbps
8. Denmark: 7.2Mbps
9. United States: 7.2 Mbps
10. Finland: 6.8 Mbps

40. Australia: 4.3 Mbps
46. New Zealand: 3.9 Mbps

The study, which looked at more than 8.8 million Australian internet connections, found just 4.1 per cent of Aussie internet users were downloading content at speeds greater than 10 megabits per second – the speed required to stream 720p high-definition movies.

Only 38 per cent of Australians were connected at speeds higher than 4Mbps.

By comparison, 86 per cent of net-connected South Koreans enjoyed speeds over 4Mbps and more than half were connected at speeds higher than 10Mbps.

Source: Akamai Technologies, third quarter 2012

The Australian National Broadband Network promises to deliver download speeds of up to 100Mbps….so where are we?

  • Labor expects to have the network finished by 2021…..that’s if they win the next election.
  • the roll-out has been slower than expected with only 34,500 homes and businesses using the NBN at the end of 2012 instead of the 116,000 predicted by mid last year !

So we are already behind schedule and dependent on an election. The Coalition seems to be hedging its bets, probably because of the $37.4 billion price tag.

Yes we all know that Australia covers a vast land space but if we want to remain the Lucky Country we need to get our internet connection policies sorted out sooner than later.

Why make it difficult or expensive for visitors to share their positive experiences when visiting Australia?

Steve MacAlpine

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Brand and digital strategist - founder of Social Insights.