A room in the South Congress Hotel.
photo credit: Nick Simonite
By Stacey Higginbotham
August 14, 2015

One of the indignities of modern travel is getting to your hotel room and paying $14.95 for Wi-Fi that barely allows you to stream Netflix. If you’re lucky you may get 3 Mbps in your room and sometimes you aren’t even guaranteed that. But the planned South Congress Hotel in Austin, Texas is making better broadband one of its signature amenities offering customers 500 Mbps in each room.

That means you could download an HD movie in about a minute and stream 4K Netflix with no problem. Each room in the boutique hotel also has its own room-specific Wi-Fi network, which means guests will be able to connect their own devices, or use gadgets such as Apple TVs or Chromecasts provided in the room for their own comfort. The ability to segment each room into its own Wi-Fi network provides a more secure environment for all of those connected devices. You won’t be able to nab content from another person’s Apple TV for example.

To get some context about hotel broadband speeds in general, I recently asked Marriott about its broadband standards. Unsurprisingly, the standard differed based on the size of the hotel, the brand and the type (resort properties need more broadband capacity than a suburban hotel, for example). Here’s what Marriott did share:

Broadly speaking a JW Marriott branded property with up to 1,500 rooms needs 500 Mbps for the entire hotel at a minimum. IF there are only 300 rooms or less in that brand, it can have 150 Mbps shared across the hotel. There are outlier hotels in certain market such as New York and San Francisco where demands are higher and Marriott reviews those standards every year and adjusts it.

So there you have it. If you’re staying in Austin and broadband is your top travel amenity (it sure beats a fluffy robe in my book) then shelling out the $289 to $500 or so a night for one of these rooms (the suites are far more) is the way to go.

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