Is Internet access a luxury in Uzbekistan hotels?
As the tourism sector develops in Uzbekistan, its hotel industry is evolving fast, and several new hotels emerge every year in the country's most busy tourist cities, such as Bukhara, Samarkand and Khiva, and in its capital city, Tashkent.
The hotel sector is now reaching a higher standard in terms of quality, and newly built hotels meet high requirements for in-room amenities and general services available. There is, however, one aspect, which seems to be either neglected or misunderstood by Uzbek hoteliers. It is the Internet access, both in rooms and in public areas of their hotels.
While in Western countries, having free and unlimited Internet access, either via LAN connection, or, in most cases, through wireless connection, is presently a common standard, the situation in Uzbekistan is quite different.
Only few big and expensive hotels offer wireless or LAN access in rooms. These include Radisson SAS and Dedeman Silk Road in Tashkent. Even here there may be reservations made by the hotel staff that the wireless may not be fully available on all floors or in all rooms.
On the other hand, the Intercontinental Hotel in Tashkent, the property that claims the role of the sectoral flagman, does not have the wireless at all. Its guests are offered a dialup(!) access from rooms at a price of four dollars per hour (as of December 2008). Except for the two hotels mentioned above, most big hotels in Tashkent have wireless access in lobbies, but not in rooms. Where they may have LAN or dial up access in rooms, it is usually at a restrictive price.
This situation roots, first of all, in the general expensiveness of Internet in the country, with 1GB of traffic amounting to approx. US$30 for private individuals and over US$100 for businesses. The high cost of Internet and its generally low speed and poor quality are experienced and complained about by both people and businesses in the country. The hotel industry, however, may want to think of how to improve this situation, as they usually charge for the rooms with amounts which are comparable or even higher than rates of similar quality and rating hotels in Europe or the USA.