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Wired vs. Wireless | The Biggest Reason for Wireless is Convenience

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March 01, 2005
Antonio DiMilia

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© 2004 Hospitality Upgrade. No reproduction without written permission.

As dial-up connections made way for DSL and pay phones made way for cellular, so too will ADSL for WiFi. Rapid advancements in technology have brought hoteliers to a crossroads. Both ADSL and wireless connectivity are viable solutions. But how will you move your hotel forward efficiently and cost effectively and remain in line with the demands of your guests? Perhaps the single biggest reason for wireless is convenience.

Wireless provides for a simple, secure connection to the Internet from anywhere in the covered area. Through proper engineering and planning, this same ease-of-use can be experienced by your guests anywhere on the property. No more being handcuffed to desk-only work spaces. Meetings are facilitated in restaurants, poolside or in uniquely configured conference spaces.

Installing the right equipment for the job is key. Certified systems, engineered and installed by qualified RF engineers, avoid the pitfalls experienced through improper installation practices.

A properly engineered and equipped wireless system supports enterprise-class virtual LANS (VLANs). The industry standard Cisco system can manage up to 16 VLANs, allowing customers to differentiate LAN policies and services such as security and quality of service. This includes such applications as additional encryption for conference users, separate networks for hotel back-office networks, restaurant POS applications, secure curbside check in and others.

The only constant in the hospitality industry is change. Renovating? Adding a wing or conference space? Engineering for your improvements is a simple feat without the hassles of relocating guest access areas. There is no rewiring of guestrooms to accommodate wired requirements, nor is there the need to add additional in-room equipment for guests’ connections.

With proper server security measures in place, such as firewall, authentication, PMS verification and encryption, as well as full VPN compatibility, security in a wireless environment meets or exceeds even the toughest client requirements. By utilizing 128-bit WEP encryption protocols and matching the guest laptop access devices with this same protocol, even the un-savvy user is guaranteed secure experience. Through the use of VLANs, every user is secure from the prying eyes of the unsavory character in the next room. And by installing a server system that is built with the business traveler in mind, all popular virtual private network software works effortlessly.

A properly engineered and equipped wireless solution will allow the service provider to monitor system performance and integrity all the way to the access point, and allow for remote configuration and maintenance, dramatically reducing site support costs. DSL solutions by their very nature have many more potential points of failure (a modem in every room) and limited remote monitoring capability. By continuously monitoring and testing each access point, server, switch and router in a wireless environment, costly down time is avoided, and guest satisfaction is ensured. DSL runs over existing phone lines putting a wired solution at the mercy of a phone system upgrade or repair–even a complete replacement. Wireless networks, while employing some wires, operate as a completely separate system, fully contained from interference with existing hotel systems.

Companies like PriceWaterhouse Coopers, Disney, GM and Intel are fully supporting and deploying WiFi networks because of their ease of implementation, ease of adding additional users, infrastructure cost containment, expandability and portability. Road warriors are seeing wireless networks in public spaces as an easy way to stay in touch.

The industry’s adoption of the 802.11 protocols nationwide is testament to its viability in the market, and the demand impressed by users.

Adoption of internal WiFi cards is growing at an unprecedented pace. And for those users who do not have a card, software-free wireless Ethernet adapters are a simple and secure solution to get guests connected quickly and easily.

Wireless networks on average cost approximately 20 percent to 30 percent less than ADSL systems to fully deploy and still cover the entire building not just the 4 foot radius from the modem on the desk.

Predicting the future isn’t easy. And technology’s rapid changes have made the guessing game even more difficult. But follow the trends and trendsetters. An overwhelming number of hotels that have installed 100 percent wireless solutions have found the solution a positive experience. Engineered to fit their properties, they now have a scalable and secure solution. And the ease-of-use through plug-and-play technology has made for a positive experience for hotel guests.

Why wireless? The bigger question is, why not.

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