Queen Elizabeth 2, currently the world's fastest cruise ship, has the world's largest marine motor and was once honored as the world's largest cruise ship and the best transatlantic cruise ship. From its maiden voyage in the 1960s to its retirement in 2008, Queen Elizabeth 2 has traveled over 8 million kilometers, which is equivalent to 13 roundtrips to the moon. After retirement, the cruise ship headed towards the world's largest artificial island — Palm Jumeirah in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Here, it continues its story, revealing its new face as a deluxe sea hotel, as well as a shopping and entertainment center.

In 1969, at only 18 years old, Tracy Whitney was fortunate to be among the first passengers to witness the maiden voyage of Queen Elizabeth 2 across the Atlantic Ocean. After nearly half a century, Tracy went on holiday to Palm Jumeirah with her husband and family and chose to stay at the Queen Elizabeth 2 cruise ship hotel. The biggest difference from 50 years ago was that the first thing they did once checking in was not to visit the deck to view the scenery, nor was it to watch a play at the theater. Instead, it was to connect to the hotel Wi-Fi to share their traveling experience on social media.

With the development of the digital society, Wi-Fi has already become deeply integrated into our modern-day lives. Just like Tracy's family, guests hope for smooth access to the Internet anytime and anywhere, and to share their wonderful moments in the cruise ship hotel with family and friends afar. For the hotel management, improving the operating efficiency of the hotel has always been the target, and the reputation of a hotel can directly improve its operating efficiency. Data from a well-known hotel booking website shows that: as a hotel gains a star in its star rating, its average room rate can be increased by 11%; as a hotel's rating increases by 1%, its number of stays increases by 0.54%, average room rates increase by 0.89%, and average revenue increases by 1.42%. The quality of hotel wireless networks is a key factor in improving the reputation of a hotel. A survey by Forrester showed that 90% of customers think that good quality hotel Wi-Fi is essential. In addition, according to the statistics, 84% of luxury hotels around the world charge for network services, and a high-quality network will bring in extra income for these hotels.

Therefore, the hotel operations management personnel want to provide customers with a high-quality Wi-Fi experience to enhance customer satisfaction, improve the hotel reputation, and increase revenue. In addition, they can analyze the behavior of the guests to offer them a more comprehensive range of considerate services. The cruise ship hotel must also rely on networks to achieve modernization of services and management.

Queen Elizabeth 2 cruise ship is 293.52 m long, which is nearly the length of three soccer fields. The cruise ship is 54 m high, which is equal to an 18-floor building. It has a displacement of over 70,000 tons. The ship has 950 suites, of which over 670 (70%) have sea views. It can accommodate 1791 guests and 921 crew members. The ship has entertainment and leisure venues available, such as a swimming pool, golf course, library, and theater.

The cruise ship hotel's large number of rooms are densely distributed and have complex structures. The rooms also have varying floor areas, from the Queen Elizabeth and Queen Mary luxury duplex suites of over 1000 square feet to the small double rooms on Deck 5. These factors pose huge challenges on Wi-Fi coverage. Huawei and the hotel are both exploring ways to provide guests with an ultimate Wi-Fi experience, and also to facilitate deployment and operations and maintenance (O&M).

Bottleneck of Traditional Wireless Access Solutions

The two traditional hotel Wi-Fi layout solutions are the corridor settled solution and indoor settled solution.

In the corridor settled solution, APs are mounted to the ceiling of the corridor, covering rooms on both sides of the corridor. Each AP covers four rooms. Results of testing show that in the parts of the guest rooms far away from the AP, the wireless signal is weak or even coverage holes exist. Average bandwidth per user can only reach 1–2 Mbit/s. After analysis, it was found that the main reason is that in order to provide guests with a nice environment, hotels adopt a series of sound insulation measures. These include the use of luxurious marble walls and a lot of sound insulation material. Luxury suites have multiple doors which obstruct the signal. These factors all cause severe Wi-Fi signal attenuation. The high-definition (HD) video on demand (VOD) services in each guest room means that each user requires at least 10 Mbit/s bandwidth. Therefore, the traditional corridor settled solution cannot meet customers' requirements for network quality.

Some large hotels that adopt the AP indoor settled solution may easily solve the problem of signal attenuation, but new problems arise. Indoor settled deployment greatly increases the number of APs, therefore increasing the AP cost. Also, installation and deployment of APs in this way requires a large amount of cables and wall engineering, and a large area. Not only is the installation difficult and expensive, but it also affects the aesthetics of the guest rooms and negatively impacts the overall visual experience of guests. This is especially true for rooms on cruise ships that are of such high value. In addition, during the installation and deployment, daily operations of the cruise ship hotel are greatly affected, reducing the income of the cruise ship hotel. Therefore, the traditional AP indoor settled deployment is also unacceptable to customers.

Customer Experience-centric Wall Plate AP

Huawei proposed the use of the wall plate AP2050DN solution for the Queen Elizabeth 2 cruise ship hotel, with its unusual environment and network demands. The wall plate AP supports concurrent wired and wireless access, and provides pass-through and USB ports to conveniently use IP phones and charge USB devices. The wall plate AP is designed to match the plate and can be easily installed on an 86-type box to fit the plate seamlessly to the wall. As well as not affecting aesthetics of the guest rooms, it also does not occupy space in the room. As the wall plate AP is deployed in a room, the signal does not need to pass through the wall. This makes the signal coverage and network bandwidth better than the traditional corridor settled solution. This solution allows wireless signals to cover the entire room, without signal interference generated with other rooms.

Using wall plate APs can greatly reduce the time spent on construction and deployment. Wall plate APs also do not damage the original decoration and building structure while reducing costs. Regarding deployment, engineers need only a quarter of an hour on average for the network deployment of a room, greatly improving deployment efficiency and letting customers put more time into operations.

Luxury hotels have stringent requirements on the hotel stay experience. Among these, not disturbing guests is a basic requirement. If a hotel guest reports a network problem, the hotel needs to send someone to the room, which will disturb the guest. This severely affects the hotel stay experience. Huawei provides the eSight network management system for the Queen Elizabeth 2 cruise ship hotel. eSight offers automatic deployment of devices, and provides functions such as visualized fault diagnosis and intelligent capacity analysis. eSight can help the hotel management improve O&M efficiency, increase resource usage, and reduce O&M costs, ensuring the stable running of network devices. When a network is faulty, the hotel management can use eSight to perform automatic fault diagnosis and remote O&M on the network, without the need to enter the guest's room. This improves the hotel stay experience.

Huawei's wall plate AP uses the latest 802.11ac Wave 2 technology and supports air interface bandwidth of up to 1.267 Gbit/s. This meets the requirements of various services, such as HD VOD and augmented reality (AR) games.

A wall plate AP integrates several access methods, such as wireless access, wired access of four PCs, and access of two phones. Wall plate APs can optimize guest room cabling, beautify the environment for guests, and improve the network experience. Wall plate APs also provide an emergency telephone line. Luxury hotels usually will have an analog phone in the bathroom to ensure that guests can use the phone in an emergency. Huawei's wall plate AP solution provides an analog phone port, ensuring that this 'analog lifeline' is not eradicated by the arrival of the digital era.

By using Huawei's wall plate AP solution, guests of the Queen Elizabeth 2 cruise ship hotel receive an ultimate Wi-Fi experience. From the standard rooms to luxury suite balconies, and from the swimming pool to the golf course, all guests can conveniently and flexibly enjoy a mobile office as well as leisure and entertainment. Finally, the customer satisfaction increased by 60% for the cruise ship hotel, providing an overall improvement to its competitiveness.

Carl of Queen Elizabeth 2 cruise ship hotel said, "We believe that, with the enormous help of Huawei's Wi-Fi solution, the cruise ship hotel will identify new opportunities in the future. This will make various new services possible and help provide guests with an ultimate experience that will make them never want to leave."

For Tracy's family staying at the Queen Elizabeth 2 cruise ship, not only can they share their hotel stay experience in real time on social media from anywhere in the hotel, but they can also provide a live stream for the loyal fans of Queen Elizabeth 2 who are far away in the UK. This allows the fans to see for themselves the rejuvenation of the cruise ship.

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