I’m in Orlando this weekend for a conference, and the trip has already provided two interesting WiFi-related stories, one awesome and one pathetic.

First: after landing at the Orlando Airport and collecting our bags, a colleague and I headed out to the taxi line and found ourselves waiting with nearly a hundred other people. When not a single taxi had come for about five minutes, I called my hotel to ask if they had an airport shuttle, and they referred me to a local company which has a shuttle that stops at the hotel. We walked over to the company’s desk and saw a line of a few dozen people waiting to book a ride; at the end of the desk was a touchscreen kiosk that allows people to pick up their pre-paid tickets for reservations they made on the web. I had a vague recollection that Orlando Airport has a free wireless network, so I opened up my laptop, and in under five minutes we had reservations on the next shuttle and our kiosk-printed tickets in hand.

Insane WiFi prices at the Orange County Convention Center

Second: the conference is at the Orange County Convention Center, and knowing I’d be spending about twelve hours a day for four days in the place, I was hopeful that there’d be a wireless network I’d be able to hop onto here and there. And a wireless network there is — but the cost is a staggering $25 a day, which is expensive enough to be hysterical.

Seriously, they expect someone to pay the equivalent of $750 a month for a network connection? Are the convention center folks clinically insane? For my four days at the conference, that’d be $100 — twice the cost of a reasonable cable modem (which provides 50 times the bandwidth!) — just to be able to check email and whatnot. I wonder how many people take them up on the service; based on how few people I see with their laptops out in the hallways, I can’t imagine there are very many.