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Editorial #106: Dr. Z on WiFi in Public Places while Traveling

Dr. Z has been traveling for the past 3 weeks–in and out of hotels, airports, restaurants and other places.

Here is his report card on wifi access in public places. He has found a way to quickly determine if wifi via video would work well in a place he is in. Video requires higher bandwidth than a simple browsing session with google and reading articles on the web. To be safe, a good bandwidth number for video would be at least 1 mbps download and .75 mbps upload for a wifi connection.

How do you know if it will be good?

Download an app called Speedtest for your Apple or Android mobile device or point your browser to http://www.speedtest.net. There will be a button on it saying “Begin your Test”–click it and it will run for a minute before some numbers come up. If you see the numbers above 1.0 mbps for download and .75 for upload, there is a good chance you can do video using wifi on the site where you did your testing. Anything lower, your connection may not work very well–either it will be blurry or get disconnected.

Airports are usually good…with an app called “Boingo” which is not free, I have been able to talk over video pretty good.

Hotels are hard to predict. Some hotels are better than others. Usually better during daytime than evenings. If the hotel is busy during daytime, then the wifi won’t be as good.

McDonalds are usually not good for wifi–their bandwidth requirements for video are too low. I find Starbucks or Barnes and Noble better for wifi.

In planes, such as Delta or Southwest–the wifi is usually too low for effective video communication. You can try but no guarantees here.

Hope this helps you folks.

Happy traveling from Dr. Z!

Dr. Z cares about your communication access.

Disclosure: Dr. Z (Philip W. Bravin) is associated with CSDVRS, currently its Vice-President of Business Development and Outreach.

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