Want Good WiFi While You’re Out? Avoid Chain Restaurants And Hotels

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We’re in the era of connectivity, 4G and WiFi are ubiquitous, and we’re on our devices more than ever handling email and checking in with our social media updates.

Mobile data is better than ever, but there are still black-spots, and most tariffs are capped (except for the excellent Three All-you-can-eat Data plans) so it makes sense to jump on WiFi as often as possible, especially if you need to send or receive a large file, or stream video content.

You’d expect to head to the nearest large chain hotel or coffee shop for reliable WiFi, but new research conducted by 34SP.com suggests you might be better off seeking out independent alternatives when looking for quick and reliable Wi-Fi connections.

As part of a major study into the public Wi-Fi offered across northern England, the speeds at dozens of restaurants, bars and cafes were independently tested using the Ookla speedtest iPhone app in similar locations within each site and measured for upload speed, download speed and ping (response) times. A wide range of premises were tested including McDonald’s, Burger King, Costa Coffee, Starbucks, Pizza Express, Premier Inn and Travelodge.

For upload and download speeds, higher results are better, whereas for ping times, lower is better indicating a faster response.

Across chains as a whole, it found that the typical download speed is 6.46mbps whereas the average for independents is 10.99mbps. There was an even wider gap in upload speed, and there was also a marked difference in ping speed – the typical ping speed for chains is 138.84ms as opposed to the average for independents of 46.38ms.

More and more or us are working remotely, whether is to make best use of limited office resources or to work more efficiently by getting sales data or a report back to the office in the least amount of time. Studies show that the work-life balance can be improved by allowing employees greater flexibility with how and where they work, so remote working as opposed to travelling back into the office toward the end of the day is not only more productive, but can also lead to happier staff.

Mobile data connectivity directly shapes the location choice for many of these mobile workers, whether it be which hotel to stay at, or the best venue for a client meeting and should not be underestimated as a draw by these retail and service providers.

It is by no means an exhaustive study, but the research consistently suggests that for the best mobile working experience, workers should seek out WiFi offered by independent businesses, rather than the perhaps better know ‘chains’. The data shows that the independents offer an average of 70 per cent higher download speeds than chains (6.46mbps v 10.99mbps), and a massive 800% better upload speed (0.52mbps v 4.79mbps).

Some of the WiFi in these locations will be offered for free, some will partner with a cloud provider like BT Openzone or The Cloud, in which case you will need an account to use their connection. Worryingly the paid services don’t always guarantee a better or faster performance than the free versions more typically found in the independents.

There is of course a security element that needs to be considered with remote working. Companies should employ a secure VPN for their remote workers to connect with so that data sent back and forth is secure, and unable to be intercepted over the air.

This post was written by Rob Gordon, an IT geek, gadget lover and blogger. Rob has been using the internets since 1994 when the only streaming video was that coffee pot in Cambridge (rip).... Follow Rob on Twitter - @robgordon - about.me/robgordonuk