I've just found an interesting variation on hotel Internet access that I'd not seen before - classes of service. It's in the Prague Hilton, and the company responsible is a local outfit called Mikenopa.

Basically you can choose between 256kbits/s, 1Mbit/s or 2Mbit/s - presumably they are trying to strike a balance between those users who want to stream video and those who merely want to read their email.

Nice idea. The fly in the ointment is cost, as usual. The basic service is Kc450 - over £10 - for 24 hours use, while the 2Mbit/s version is a stonking Kc1199 - that's almost £30!

Even the WLAN around the meeting rooms is Kc540 - about £10 - for 24 hours, and to add injury to insult, you can only use it on one system. That means if I use it with my laptop today, I can't use it with my Palm tomorrow, even though I've paid for it.

I can understand the logic, sort of. After all, otherwise what's to stop me buying a 24-hour pass and then once I've picked up my email, lending it to a colleague to use with their PC?

It's faulty logic though, for a pretty simple reason: I'd only want to lend my WLAN pass because of the high fees. Cut the cost, and your guest's incentive (it is important for site owners to remember that these are your customers that you're ripping-off) to share goes away.

Better yet, adopt the Free-Hotspot model and make it a service to your guests, not an added extra. It's not the Dark Ages, after all.