A Moribund Tale of the Pittsburgh Hilton’s Ever-Fizzling Internet Reliability: My Story of Woe

by Megan M. on September 3, 2009 · View Comments (Blog) |

Unreliable internet makes even the poshest hotel a nightmare—you know what I’m talking about.

The Pittsburgh Hilton has gorgeous accommodations. The Executive Lounge is nice and quiet with a freaktacular view of the river. (Hell—the view from my window is amazing. The view from the fourth floor gym is amazing!) The beds are comfy. The bathroom is shiny and spiffy. The flat screen on the wall makes me wish I’d brought my A/V cables with me.

And the desk! The desk is wonderful. Solid. Stable. Clean, smooth, nice and big. Right next to the big window in my room, with an incredibly comfortable swivel chair. That is some kind of nice chair, people.

Of course, I haven’t used the desk since I got here.

You know why?

You do, don’t you. I can tell already.

The internet doesn’t reach the desk.

Not only is there no wireless signal at the desk, but the wired connection they have there—all set up and easy to use—doesn’t work either. Ethernet cable an instant solution to wireless woes, you say? Nope.

The word is that they’ve been trying to fix it all for the last few days, but I’m skeptical. I’m skeptical because universities have free wireless on campuses all over the country. I’m skeptical because a nice woman in the lobby (a nice, very frustrated woman in the lobby) told me that Pittsburgh has wifi all over. And they can’t get it in this one hotel? Interesting. Very interesting!

Of course, I don’t know anything about wireless; I don’t know what construction materials in the building might make it very complicated. I don’t know what might even keep them from having working ethernet connections in the rooms. But when clueless hotel employees pass me from one extension to another—over and over—and tell me to change locations multiple times, repeatedly, with no actual knowledge of whether it will work and no real concern for the fact that they’re wrong 90% of the time—I start to think that somebody isn’t in the right loop. I start to think that somebody isn’t trying very hard to get people involved that really know how this works.

I start to think, in fact, that reliable internet connections aren’t high priority in high quality hotels.

But, that’s crazy. That couldn’t possibly be it.

Could it?

In the meantime, I can post this entry because if I crouch near the door to my room, I get the network signal back. If I carry my laptop carefully to the closest edge of the closest bed, I can sit right on the edge of the bed and use the wireless connection. Sometimes it flakes off and goes away, and so I sit outside my door, on the floor in the corridor. The wireless sometimes works in the lobby (where it is often loud with people and music), and pretty much never works in the executive lounge, no matter how much anyone insists to me that it should be working up there. (I have met at least one very disgruntled internet-less businessman in my numerous visits to the executive lounge. I’m sure twelve hours of forsaken productivity to him means far more lost income than it does for me, but I did feel that we were kindred spirits, in that moment.) Because the lobby is somewhat far away to risk when you consider that I have to pack up my office to be productive down there, the floor outside my room and the very outermost edge of the bed nearest to the door are my best bets to get anything done.

Or I could schlep back to Starbucks.

Or McDonald’s.

Or, I could stay here and suffer, and write about it on my blog. Fascinating choice, don’t you think?

  • beckyblanton
    Ah Megan, The Hilton in London where I stayed prior to TED was fabulous too! Awesome fantastic room, great bed, fabulous, fabulous, fabulous! But THEIR internet SUCKED too. And you had to pay EXTRA for it!! And it was slower than Christmas, erratic, flickered and faltered. And no one knew what to do with it either. I think the Hilton ROCKS everywhere but digitally. THAT part of being 5 Star they don't have down yet. You'd think the managers, designers and whomever COULD figure it out...but nope. That's okay. I took lots of hot baths and showers, ate myself silly and lounged on the great bed and slept fantastically. I was annoyed, pissed as hell even, but the food and everything else MORE than made up for it.....
  • @TechHerding (Dick Carlson)
    I've noticed this, too. If you're in a cheap motel, wireless works fine. If you're in a high-class joint (that just happens to have an expensive bar, three expensive restaurants, some expensive shops and a few expensive salons) the wireless doesn't work.

    Call me paranoid.
  • bzarcher
    Every time I have had to stay in a Hilton for travel, or attend conferences held at a Hilton for work?

    The WiFi NEVER Works. Columbus, Cleveland, Toronto, San Mateo (SAN FREAKING MATEO. Where 3/4 of the companies that MAKE WiFi hardware are based!!!), even New York. The WiFi NEVER worked.
  • Martin Whitmore
    Sweet Jesus... you'd think that if a *McDonald's* can maintain reliable WiFi, it should be a NO-BRAINER that a high end hotel should be able to manage it. Find out what the hotel's most important structural features are, and we'll go back after you leave and wrap them in C4 with a wireless detector, set to go off if they stop getting a signal.
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