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Wired vs. Wireless | A Case for Wired Broadband in Hospitality - Thinking Beyond Internet Access

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March 01, 2005
Ken Martinez

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© 2004 Hospitality Upgrade. No reproduction without written permission.

At this point, a lot of people in the hospitality industry are trying to figure out how to stay on top of the latest in high-speed Internet service for their guests.

That’s a challenge, no question. But I’d like to suggest that there are other, bigger issues that must be addressed at the same time. I believe that during the search for the ideal high-speed Internet solution, the hospitality industry must consider video and entertainment, as well as rapidly developing technologies such as IP telephony.

Sound like a big deal? It’s not. In fact you already have the infrastructure in place to do a great job with whatever the future will bring. It’s called wires. Simple copper telephone wires are the proven answer for high-speed Internet, and all the entertainment and video you need to bring into – and send out of – your rooms. Even better, those wires will usher your phone center into a new wave of profitability.

So what has to happen to fully leverage your existing infrastructure? Simple. Turn to the latest in DSL, a- high-speed connection that uses existing phone lines to deliver overall quality of service that is unmatched by any other solution. Advances in wired broadband are now capable of delivering 26 Mbps service over existing phone lines, ample bandwidth for digital TV service, two-way video conferencing, in addition to high-speed Internet, applications which would bring a wireless network to its knees.

It’s an ideal situation. Your infrastructure is mostly installed, so capital costs are lower and more predictable. The equipment is proven and reliable, so the risk is very low. We believe technology should work for you: In the background, humming along without causing a fuss, a silent partner walking steadily with you on the path to greater profits.

For the guest who actually has to use this stuff, the Internet connection is plug-in technology, -a simple Ethernet cable. It’s something the consumer understands and likes, which makes them happy.

Wired DSL also represents a way to make voice profitable again. Voice over IP is coming to the guestrooms of companies that “get it.” You need to decide now if you’re going to be a part of the movement, or if you’re going to leave the door open for guests to use your broadband service to continue going around your billing system.

Don’t make a hasty decision. Make sure you build voice over IP (VoIP) into your model. It will differentiate your service and gain you favorable hotel status with the price-sensitive business traveler. With a fat, reliable broadband pipe dedicated to every room, you are positioned to deploy a business-class VoIP service. Your guests will pay a daily premium for flat-fee voice service that includes unlimited nationwide calling. Since the voice is converted to IP packets in the room and transported to the telephone network over your location broadband connection, you don’t have to worry about exhausting ports on your PBX.

Wired is easier to lock down and maintain the integrity of your network. In fact, we’re beginning to see business travelers from both government and corporate sectors faced with employee IT policies that prohibit the use of network connections that are not wired.

With wired, budgets are more likely to start reasonable and stay there, because wired is proven enough to not be surprising. You don’t want to find out, in the middle of a project, that the solution you picked is not going to provide complete coverage, that it winds up not being so useful to your guests, or that additional work to run new cables will cost you more than originally expected. Wired is a safe budget decision.

But in the end it’s really about keeping things simple, and being smart enough to recognize technology that at first blush may appear to be less expensive but in fact may cost more in the long run – while actually offering less in the way of value and services. With WiFi, for example, your patrons will need a wireless card. If they don’t have one and they want to use the hotel’s wireless service, you will have to provide it for them. It will have to be configured. And then you’re going to have to get it back from them at check out.

Be aware: Early adopters of technology are looking for free wireless hotspots, and they’ll make themselves at home anywhere they can find one. Be smart about where on your property you want to offer a shared Internet connection.

Make sure you understand the complete business case for a securely wired, very high-speed guestroom connection before surrendering your existing investment in your wires. Count your wires in for the long haul. They have the potential to enhance your rooms with a new level of profitable services.

Unmatched quality of service that allows you, and your guests, to sleep soundly at night.

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