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Wireless Networks: A Must-Have Hotel Amenity

| By Frank Liu, SME Marketing Manager, Huawei Enterprise Business Group

Today's hotel guests are most likely to range in age from 20 to 50, be well-educated, and almost always carry mobile devices, such as laptops and smartphones, when they check-in. Beyond the expectation for amenities like top-of-the-line facilities, food, and services, guests insist upon convenient Internet access during their stay. Increasingly, in order to offer a better guest experience, more and more hotels are providing wireless network services.

Why Should Hotels Provide Wireless Network Access?

Before the 1990's, guests used hard-wired room phones to obtain concierge services such as booking a car or making dinner reservations. In the 2000's, guests obtained services via applications integrated with IP phones; for example, requesting amenities like mini-bar services or ordering a meal using a self-service interface. Smart mobile devices reached an inflection point for popularity in the market around 2010, and have since changed the expectations for hotel amenities. Savvy travelers expect a wide diversity of mobile services. Smart mobile applications now provide a variety of hotel services and room control functions. With a visual interface, touch screen, and mobility features, mobile devices in hotels mark the future for an industry. To meet this trend, hotels are building wireless networks that are highly reliable, easy to use, and require low maintenance in order to support a wide range of mobile devices.

Hotel guests expect to have wireless Internet access anytime and anywhere, indoors or out, with their mobile phones or tablets. A high performance wireless network not only fulfills customer expectations, but also meets the daily management needs of the hotel. For example, hotels can use wireless networks to set up a wireless security system, a wireless card access control system, or a wireless information release system, or even issue Wi-Fi phones for individual staff use.

What Problems Need to Be Solved?

Hotels need to deploy wireless networks in a variety of scenarios. The traditional method to improve WLAN coverage has been to add additional access points (APs). WLAN frequencies are limited, with each frequency band supporting only three non-overlapping channels (1, 6, and 11). Casual deployment of APs is a guaranteed path for generating co-channel interference issues. It is therefore crucial to avoid channel interference and to improve WLAN coverage by selecting an appropriate deployment method.

Most hotels deploy WLANs by installing indoor-settled APs along corridors where WLAN signals must pass through thick walls, designed for noise insulation, to reach the guest rooms. The results are attenuated WLAN signals reaching the guest rooms, sometimes producing signal strength of less than the –65 dBm hotel industry standard for wireless signal strength. Due to weak and unstable signals, guests may be able to connect to the WLAN, but unable to access the Internet. The resulting customer frustration, and the complaints they generate are an incentive for hotels to ensure WLAN quality in addition to providing WLAN coverage.

Huawei Smart Hotel Solution

With years of experience in ICT, Huawei has developed a Smart Hotel solution with an All-IP network structure that supports multiple services on one network, including broadband access, voice, video conferencing, video surveillance, and IPTV. The Huawei Smart Hotel solution provides various WLAN deployment methods to suit hotel layout, including indoor-settled APs, indoor-distributed APs, combined 2G/3G networks, WLAN over CATV (WOC), and WLAN over Ethernet (WOE). With these flexible deployment methods, the Huawei Smart Hotel solution helps hotels provide secure and high-speed wireless Internet access at low cost, improving the guest's experience and offering an impressive competitive edge.

  • Guest Room Deployment

For WLAN deployment in existing hotels, WOC and WOE are good choices because these two methods use existing CATV or Ethernet cable resources to transmit WLAN signals. No wall drilling or extra cabling is required, and it only takes 10 minutes to deploy WLAN for a single room. As a result, 100% WLAN coverage can be provided without interrupting routine hotel business.

For WLAN deployment in hotels under construction, indoor-distributed APs can be used. The APs are installed along corridors and connected to feeders through which WLAN signals are transmitted into guest rooms. A single indoor distributed AP can cover six to eight rooms, with signal strength greater than –65 dBm.

  • Indoor Public Area Deployment

Apart from guest rooms, many indoor public areas with large space and few walls, such as lobbies, conference rooms, and recreation centers, require sufficient WLAN coverage. Huawei Smart Hotel deploys indoor-settled APs in these circumstances. A single indoor-settled AP can cover a 70 to 90 meter radius, making 100% WLAN coverage possible with minimal AP deployment.

  • Outdoor Deployment

Outdoor areas, including parks and beachfronts, are usually large and offer little shelter. Huawei provides high-power outdoor APs for large-scale signal transmission in these scenarios. The APs are IP-67 ingress protection rated and completely shielded from effects of dust and water immersion. They also include a built-in AP surge protector designed for outdoor use.

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