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Road warrior update

by Scott Bradner

Just about a year ago I wrote about some of the problems with life on the road for a Road Warrior (Road Warrior Connectivity, NWW 1 June 1998). Some of the problems I mentioned seem to be getting better but not all of them.

I have not seen much improvement in the clue density of hotel management. In spite of the ready availability of desk lamps with built in power and phone connections one still has to crawl on your hands and knees to get to the power outlet in most rooms in "business hotels." In addition, you frequently have to unplug something useful like the lamp or the clock radio. (Most of the time the outlet gets switched off with the room lights if it’s the former.) That is if you can find a plug within power cord distance of the table that the hotel has so thoughtfully provided. Then there are the other signs of the level of thought that goes into hotel room design such as the fact that you normally can not see the TV from where they expect you to sit to use your lap top.

Then there is the difficulty of getting an outside line to dial up your ISP of choice, even in the hotels that provide a 2nd line for use with a modem. And there is the quality of the resulting connection, 19.2Kb is all too common, and finally the ultimate example of not getting it, hotels that put call waiting on the phone line. By the way, why is it that the more expensive the hotel is the more they try to rip you off when you make a phone call? You get free 800 and local calls at Motel 6 but have to pay $1 or more at the Ritz - now these same hotels have started to charge extra if you spend more than 30 min on a call.

One part of this may be changing. I was told last week that there are a number of requests for proposals to provide Ethernet-based high speed connectivity in hotel rooms currently floating around. Together the RFPs cover about 4000 hotels with as many as 100,000 rooms. There are a number of companies lining up to bid. Two that I know about are the Nortel affiliated Elastic Networks ( and Wayport (, an Austin Texas based company. I wrote about Elastic Networks last year. In addition to providing room connectivity service, i.e. they run the network for the hotel, Wayport offers to outsource the corporate data network for hotel chains, and can also provide wireless connectivity for meeting room areas.

Sadly, one of the things that has not changed is the speed with which I'll make 1K status on United this year. (I do not consider this an objective measure of intelligence.)

disclaimer: The Harvard Business School could use salary level as an objective measure of something but the above mileage is mine.