Last week when I was in Hangzhou and Shanghai, China, for a higher education 21st century learning conference, I used my Boingo WiFi Hotspot login several times on the “partner login” page of ChinaMobile. I don’t have a Boingo subscription, in the past I’ve just opted for a “pay as you go” plan. The interesting thing about accessing the Internet via ChinaMobile’s WiFi hotspots was that there were not any instructions in English about prices, so I didn’t know how much the connection was going to actually cost. For some reason the hotel did not provide free WiFi in all our sessions, so in order to blog the conference I needed to opt for this commercial connection.

In addition to not knowing the pricing schedule, I was also holding my breath a bit before seeing these bills since I used my Boingo account during the conference to log in four or five other international participants and presenters who were sitting around me and also wanted to get online. I didn’t know if I’d be charged for multiple Boingo connections, if ChinaMobile would kick me off my login (and just 1 accept simultaneous login from our location) or if I’d just be charged once for each day. Turns out each day just cost $10 US, and I wasn’t charged for the simultaneous logins. Woo hoo!

My Boingo connections in China

My Boingo charges in China

Being able to get online at the conference when no one else seemed to be able to was fun at the time, especially when I was able to get other people online as well… But if I’d have incurred a VERY expensive bill as a result that would have taken a lot of the fun out of the experience with hindsight.

I’m in Chicago this evening for the Great Lakes 1:1 Computing Conference which starts tomorrow, sponsored by the One-to-One Institute. It is delightful to not only have fast, free WiFi here, but also not have to wrangle with proxy services to bypass a national content filter.

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