The Internet is now such an important part of a person’s life that the lack of access to a network in a restaurant or hotel may well be the reason for refusing the services of the respective organizations. Let’s talk about the features of the deployment of WiFi-networks in the building of hotels, important parameters, as well as the hardware component.
The fact that every modern hotel should have access to the Internet via WiFi in its assets is not worth mentioning. However, the configuration of the premises and number of other requirements and features make this task somewhat specific. It is important to assess the degree of signal propagation, to choose the right equipment, software and at the same time avoid unnecessary costs.
In terms of wireless network deployment, a typical hotel is somewhat more complicated than an office open space or coffee house. Yes, the density of customer connections is not so high here, but the distribution of the signal is affected by walls, furniture, interior elements, pipes and other engineering structures. At the same time, for the result (for providing quality service to the guests), the ratio of signal levels and noise in any place of the hotel room is extremely important. Therefore, even at the design stage of the network, it is necessary to conduct a full radio survey and radio planning to determine the optimal points of equipment placement.
Within this stage, specialized equipment and software will be involved. Equally important is information about the characteristics of objects located on the signal propagation path (up to the materials used). Usually, interference analysis is performed according to drawings and floor plans. The discrepancy between the actual situation and the plans can lead to critical errors in the results; therefore, it is advisable to supplement theoretical studies with practical measurements.
An example of a radio coverage map of a floor with guest rooms where a radio survey was conducted.
The situation with new hotels is even more complicated. Frequently, the customer still requires radio planning results at an early stage in order to design cable infrastructure. But the actual distribution of the signal is significantly influenced by the finishing materials, so that the radio inspection of the concrete box gives practically meaningless results.
In such a situation, several equipped demo rooms are needed in which a radio survey is conducted. They are trimmed and furnished in the first place, and then based on the obtained measurements (extrapolating them to other numbers) the cable infrastructure of the entire complex is designed.
There are two fundamentally different approaches to the formation of infrastructure for the provision of Internet access services. The first is the refinement of the existing solution in order to improve its characteristics. The second is the introduction of a new integrated solution.
Most hotels seek to optimize technological costs, so they choose the first way – redesign with improved coverage and network capacity but retaining (if possible) already purchased equipment. The second way is more in demand with new objects.
In any case, for the organization quality access will need additional equipment. The volume of purchases is calculated based on the expected density of connections. When choosing a new device, it is impossible not to consider the specifics of the hotel “guest” access – both from a technical and aesthetic point of view. A good access point for hotels should be dual-band. The device should provide load balancing, including through the Band Steering function, which allows clients to switch to the 5 GHz band with devices supporting it, freeing the band in the 2.4 GHz band (for devices that do not support the second band).
The new devices for wireless communications for premises (that is, those places where signal propagation is hampered by overlaps, furniture, etc.) provide Beam-forming technology, which changes the conditions of signal transmission depending on the characteristics of the environment. The device determines which direction of the signal loss is greatest, and this task can be solved together with the subscriber device and the access point independently, depending on the standards supported by the client.
It is worth noting the technology that has already become mandatory in networks of the Enterprise: Airtime Fairness level, which provides protection against a “slow client”, which now cannot monopolize access point resources and does not degrade the overall network performance. In addition, the point should fit into the interior of the hotel. Of course, it can also be removed for a false ceiling, but this may affect the range of the signal, therefore it is recommended to keep the devices visible.
Access points designed for installation in rooms are often issued in the form of ordinary sockets, so as not to stand out. Access points for corridors and other premises are available in different buildings, have the function of disabling network indicators. Additionally, they are protected from theft, for example, using Kensington lock. To minimize the number of wires suitable for access points, modern devices use PoE (Power over Ethernet). Such factors as ease of setup, features of access to the device via the web interface, etc. are considered in the second place, because it is assumed that the solution needs to be configured once, after which it will function without additional interventions. Although the hotels have their own additional wishes regarding the monitoring and adjustment of the purchased equipment.
If we are not talking about the development of customized solutions that use specific previously purchased equipment, hotels may well use standard projects from large manufacturers. As an example of this approach – the project of building a wireless network in a hotel with 80 rooms based on our standard equipment.
EZEGATE: Gigabit VPN router with 2 WAN ports, optimized Network Resource Pulling (ONRP) and utilization mechanism, coupled with EZESMART ENGINE
|Switches||24-port Gigabit Managed Layer 2 Switch with 4 SFP Slots||3|
|Controller||WiFi hotspot controller||1|
|Access Points||AC1350: QCA IPQ4018 +QCA8072||45|
Along with the equipment for providing wireless access, a convenient authorization system is often introduced, since the password typed on the check or written on one of the pages of the folder with the welcome information in the room is a remnant of the past, like a slow connection or permanent communication breaks. Authorization via SMS or a page on social networks gives the hotel some information about the guest, which, when analysed in bulk, allows you to change the parameters of the offer for the target audience. Technologies provide not only image advantages, but also completely monetized marketing data.
Additionally, you can use mobile phone applications or similar services that are often provided with IT partners to save on development. Similarly, in partnership with leading legal OTT services, guests can be offered streaming video as an alternative to hotel television.
A wireless network with good coverage and stable Internet access opens up a lot of possibilities in front of the hotel. For example, it allows you to use mobile payment terminals at any point, install ATMs or other self-service terminals. In addition, it is possible to introduce IT-tools for business automation through smartphones and tablets for staff, which allows you to simplify the management of individual services – banquet, maid, catering. And large global hotel chains are already testing various forms of mobile applications for the guests themselves, offering tools to meet their needs with minimal contact with the staff, which are available when connecting to the Internet or WiFi of the hotel network, which is especially convenient for guests from other cities or countries .