TALKING POINT | With many airport WiFi hotspots delivering snail-like speeds, requiring passwords or personal information to get online or even booting you off after just a moment of inactivity, have you given up on free WiFi at the airport, or do you still connect and try to squeeze some bandwidth?
That’s the question we’re putting to readers this week, because many business travellers seem to prefer using their own portable hotspot to get online, or in the alternative, transforming their smartphone into a high-speed 4G WiFi network to achieve the same.
In many cases, the latter provides the best browsing experience, particularly when results published this month by Ookla – the company behind Speedtest – show that average mobile data speeds at Sydney Airport are almost 15 times as fast as the airport’s own WiFi connection.
In Adelaide, mobile data proves to be around 10 times faster than airport WiFi, while in Melbourne and Brisbane, cellular data is about twice the speed of airport wireless.
Only in Perth and the Gold Coast were the airport-provided WiFi hotspots faster than mobile BYO data: but even then, typical 4G download speeds were still around the 40Mbps mark.
Of course, Ookla’s results only measure the complimentary, terminal-wide WiFi service at each airport: access speeds on private airport lounge networks weren’t measured, but as frequent travellers can attest, vary wildly in any case.
Sometimes, speeds within the lounges can be incredibly solid – for instance, we clocked downloads at 113.1Mbps in Sydney’s domestic Qantas lounges this month – or can be far worse, such as the 1.6Mbps measured in the airline’s Brisbane lounges in the same week.
So, what’s your airport WiFi strategy? Do you give WiFi a chance before whipping out your own mobile phone or hotspot, or do you jump straight onto your own mobile data service: ignoring any free WiFi entirely?