After arriving at Charlotte one of the first things I did was check the wireless access options available to me, after using them for a day here is what I found:

  • Wireless is a bit slow at the Westin, but useable
  • Wireless at the Charlotte Convention Center (CCC) is a waste of time and money ($15)

Wireless At The Westin

Wireless at the Westin  comes in $13 and $16 flavors. I opted for the $13 dollar option and began clicking though the pretty site they’ve created to part you from your cash in exchange for the privilege of wireless internet. This takes a while and you’ll have to put in your room number and a few other detail.s  You’ll receive a Pin number and the green light for the internet.  Write down the Pin if you’d like to connect a second device such as a smartphone.I have a couple gripes with the wireless at the Westin:

  • Kinda slow (just fast enough to stream Netflix, not fast enough to stream Netflix and let the system update in the background)
  • Disconnects occasionally (not enough to be a problem, but annoying never the less)
  • You have to go through the process of buying internet access each day

The upsides to Wireless at the Westin:

  • They don’t block RDP like some places I’ve been which means Jefferson works just fine
  • They also don’t block all the higher ports which means that the UUA’s VPN NetExtender also works
  • shows that they are delivering just as much speed as they promised (1/2 a megabit per second if you go with the $13 option)
  • Nice strong wireless signal (at least in my room and the lobby)
  • Lets me connect a second device (my phone)

Wireless in the Charlotte Convention Center

Wireless in the CCC is an entirely different story. While it was easy to put in payment info and select how many days you’d like access for, its simply not worth it. Takes forever to load a simple page like XKCD. Logging into Jefferson required multiple attempts and even when I finally did manage to sign in it was slow enough to frustrate any mere mortal (a deity would probably have long since vaporized the laptop).

Cell Phone Coverage

Unfortunately, I have further bad news to report: cell phone coverage is extremely spotty in the convention center. If you are looking for internet in the convention center I wouldn’t count on being able to use your smartphone or tablet in any room. Though you should be able to use the CyberCafe during exhibit hours or you can check hotspotr for local wifi hotspots.

That’s our wireless experience in Charlotte so far. If you have info on the connection at the Marriott or other locations please share in the comments below.

About the Author
James Curran