Why do I need data limits for my guests when all they want is unlimited free data?

As per’s global survey that was published in April, free wifi is the most important in-room amenity for guests. Not surprisingly, guests preferred wifi over any other in-room feature as the need for constant connectivity remains at an all-time high.

So you’re now offering free wifi to your guests. Well done! So why are you being asked for unlimited free data now?

I get asked these questions at least five times a week: “I have an unlimited monthly data plan from my Internet service provider so why am I limiting how much free data my guests can have per day? Why can’t I just give them unlimited data?”

There are a few answers to these questions depending on your scenario.

If you have an ADSL1 or ADSL2/ADSL2+ line, or even numerous of these lines coming into your complex for your guest wifi, the bandwidth tends to not be able to cope with heavy downloads and uploads. Uploads in particular have increased dramatically. Drop Box, Facebook and many other social media sites make it very easy for people to upload (put things on the web from their devices). Data upload amounts are fast becoming close to that of data download amounts from information we have studied from our Internet management system, Time Out Internet.

Upload speeds for ADSL1 (384Kbps**) and ADSL2/ADSL2+ (512Kbps – 3Mbps**) are not great to start with so heavy usage can cause disruptions to your internet connection and slow everything down.

Download speeds for ADSL1 (8Mbps maximum**) and ADSL2/ADSL2+ (24Mbps maximum**) are also not blisteringly fast and speed can be dependent on where you are located in regards to line quality and distance from the Telstra exchange. You may have ADSL2/ADSL2+ but be close to the 4km border range from the exchange and only be able to get ADSL1 speeds.

By giving your guests unlimited data usage, all it could take was one guest uploading all their holiday and travel photos into a Facebook album, to hog all your bandwidth and cripple the Internet for your other guests. This scenario equals complaints and bad reviews about your wifi.

Limiting data amounts allows for these lines to be shared so that everyone can do what they need to online without “hogging” the line.

“I have the NBN or a fibre optic connection, why can’t I give unlimited data when my upload/download speeds won’t be compromised?”

If you are fortunate enough to have the NBN or a fibre optic connection, setting data usage limits is still extremely important. Fast lines allow for movies, music and Torrent programs to be downloaded and uploaded very quickly. Giving guests unlimited data allows them to stream this media all day and share it with whomever they want. Potentially they could be sharing illegal content that if traced comes back to your Internet connection and therefore, you!

Movie companies (“rightholders”) are following through on their threats of fining illegal down loaders and sharers – mums and dads, kids and businesses. Why put your business in this position to start with by allowing this type of usage on your network? The data usage amount you give your guests for free can be higher than if you have ADSL1/ADSL2/ADSL2+, as an example let’s say 1Gb of data per day and if your guests wants more data, give it to them, but give it to them in increments of 1Gb. Limit the damage they can do online, henceforth protecting your business.

Important: If you are offering free wifi to your guests and limiting data amounts, my suggestion is to ensure that on all your advertising and booking websites you have ‘Free wifi – data limits apply’ clearly stated. This avoids your guests having the expectation that you are offering free unlimited data and accusing you of false advertising.

**speeds listed in this article are examples only

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