Hotel internet woes

Travelling in France, various problems with hotel Internet:

  • The one whose captive portal logs you out every 15 minutes
  • The one that resets HTTP requests for various Javascript libraries, including some basic things likes like JQuery and Dojo. On further inspection my guess is it has a whitelist of allowed Javascript URLs and blocks all others.
  • The one that requires an email address and gives you 10 minutes to verify a code sent to it. After entering the code your 10 minutes is not extended, but logging in again with the same credentials does work.
  • The one that doesn’t allow SSH connections.
  • The one whose captive portal aggressively intercepts connections sometimes breaking web page reloads.
  • The one that is just crushingly slow.
  • The one that is sort of fast on download but 400kbps on upload. Trying to Tweet a 2MB photo times out.
  • The one that works reasonably well, if slowly, but 1 of the 12 wifi access points is broken. The one closest to my room, and me with no idea how to tell my computer to ignore that single access point. They brought a new access point for me, some ZyXEL consumer hardware. It works better but the antenna is broken off so the WiFi is weaker than the rogue bad AP. Fortunately the ethernet switch on it worked so I was able to use my own wifi router.
  • The one whose captive portal can’t capture Google, so the obvious way of triggering the login capture process does not work.

France has a particular problem in that the law requires all Internet users have to identify themselves. A requirement which is not always reliably enforced, but it seems to be enough that few places are willing to just let you connect to a WiFi node; you have to type in some form of identification. Hotels love getting your email address, of course.

The real problem is all this captive portal hackery; it may be an even worse networking abomination than NAT. Wasn’t there some effort to at least standardize a captive portal response so your browser understands that “www.google.com” isn’t actually a page for a shitty Novotel?