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Using hotel free wireless internet with mobile phones

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Be aware that hotel wireless might not always work on your smart phone. It might be good to travel with a small laptop or do research on your phone's specifications before you leave. Although technologies change very quickly, it would have been good for us to know some of the issues that could arise before we departed on our trip.

In our trip to Italy over the past 3 weeks, at 2 of our 5 hotels we were unable to log in to the hotel's free wireless service using our HTC Desire Android phones purchased in North America. The wireless network did not even show up as an available network in our hotel room. However, in both cases we WERE able to access the wireless network from our room using our laptop computer. Luckily we could set up a tethering system by plugging our phones into the laptop one by one, using its internet connection.

The problem may be due to the signal strength demanded by the phone's wireless system (compared to the computer's), and walls could get in the way and reduce signal strength. Some hotels had an internet wireless connection for each floor of the building.

In one hotel we could access the wireless network directly by phone only when sitting on a chair in the ground-floor hallway next to the room that broadcast the wireless frequency; anything farther away would lose connection. However, at this same hotel, when in our room our phones detected secure networks for nearby hotels across the street (it was in downtown Florence) and our laptop could access the wireless network. The hotel staff said that they have occasionally encountered this issue with guests' smart phones. It was nice that they supplied a computer in each room that worked on wireless technology, but its Microsoft Windows interface was Italian and we preferred to use our own computer and its programs.

When we arrived at home, we did some internet research on this and discovered that part of the issue might be the telephone's specifications. This page by HTC has some information on the model of HTC Desire we used: http://www.htc.com/www/smartphones/htc-desire-hd/#specs. The page currently lists different networks for Europe and Asia Pacific (HSPA/WCDMA: 900/2100 MHz; GSM: 850/900/1800/1900 MHz) but does not list info for North America. My husband had discovered somewhere else online that different HTC models are sold in Europe and North America and this may make it work differently when crossing regions.

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