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Published on Thursday, October 12, 2006

Ring, ring: cell phones also checking in

Hotels are starting to lose a lucrative source of income as more business and leisure travelers bring along their cell phones and other technology to avoid extra charges.

The American Hotel & Lodging Association reported that 90% of its members now offer internet access, up from only half as recently as 2004.

USA Today randomly chose a dozen hotels in 12 cities and asked about their internet and phone rates. Internet access was free at five hotels with inexpensive rates. Internet rates ranged up to $13 daily at the Sheraton Waikiki in Honolulu.

Four of the five hotels offering free internet also had free local phone calls. The newspaper survey found New York with the highest phone charges: $9.99 for the first minute of long distance.

“Just like mini-bar charges, telephone and most internet connection rates are obscene,” said Jim Pancero, a Minneapolis sales consultant. The newspaper quoted other travelers who avoid hotel phones because of perceived high costs.

Report by David Wilkening

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