Design. Validate. Deploy. Reliable Connectivity Assured

Hospitality is an extremely challenging environment for designing and deploying Wi-Fi networks. The client device population of the guests literally changes on a nightly basis, resulting in a constant influx of new and unknown devices utilizing the network. Guests often have multiple client devices (i.e., laptops, tablets, and smartphones) connected simultaneously, and use their own devices for entertainment, such as streaming media from Netflix or Amazon Prime. They expect the same level of experience they are used to at home, and the quality of the Wi-Fi (or lack thereof) is often considered more important than basics like clean sheets and towels. Thus, the demands from guests on the network are extremely high.

Additionally, guest access may not be the only traffic on the local area network (LAN). Many hotels use the Wi-Fi network for internal operations, such as directing housekeeping and maintenance staff, security and access control, VoIP systems for the in-room phones, IPTV, minibar monitoring, and for creating “smart guest rooms” with IoT devices to control temperature and lighting when rooms are unoccupied. In New York City, there is also an ordinance requiring all staff members to wear an emergency panic button that will indicate their approximate location within the hotel when pressed, with most of these systems operating over Wi-Fi.

eTribeca, with over 25 years of experience in the Wi-Fi space, can provide tailored solutions to address these challenges, ensuring seamless and reliable network performance for both guests and hotel operations.

Understanding The Requirements And Constraints

Before undertaking a wireless deployment, it is critical to understand the key requirements (and constraints) for the hospitality project. eTribeca’s expertise ensures that these factors are meticulously analysed and addressed. The requirements can generally be categorized as follows:

The Usage

It is important to capture how the internal LAN will be used and which applications and devices will be wireless vs. wired. In all hospitality environments, the network will at least be used for guest access. Guests typically have modern client devices, though some, like e-readers and low-end tablets and smartphones, are 2.4 GHz only, necessitating support for dual-band 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz operation. Guest access is typically on an unencrypted SSID, and access may be controlled by means of a captive portal.

Client isolation is critical for security, along with strong VLAN isolation from any other network applications. The trend has been for most properties to provide Wi-Fi to guests for free, but some higher-end venues still charge for it or use a hybrid model where some level of service is free but a higher-tier service needs to be paid for. When doing paid deployments, the captive portal usually needs to be integrated with the hotel’s Property Management System (PMS), and not all captive portal hardware vendors support this.

Many hospitality environments may also incorporate several other network applications, not all of them wireless, that need to be considered in scoping out the project. Some examples include security and surveillance, access control, IPTV, VoIP, minibar monitoring, point-of-sale (for restaurants and shops), panic button badges, and in-room IoT devices. If there are multiple applications, each application will likely need to have a dedicated VLAN and, if wireless, a dedicated SSID as well.

Coverage Issues

There is usually a distinction between front-of-house, where guests and customers are located, and back-of-house, which is purely for operations and facilities. Depending on the application, the available wireless SSIDs are often different in these areas; for instance, one generally does not want to provide guest access in the back-of-house areas, nor does one want to provide point-of-sale access on the guest room floors. Typical deployments will generally allow for one AP to cover a few guestrooms, depending on location and building materials, so the client density per AP is generally not high on the guestroom floors.

The layout of the property is also extremely important. There may or may not be Ethernet wiring in individual guest rooms. A hotel may be a single mid-rise or high-rise building, or it may consist of multiple buildings that may or may not have fibre or Ethernet infrastructure connecting them. If designing for multiple buildings, then a separate design for the wireless backhaul infrastructure needs to be performed.

Capacity Planning

Capacity is generally moderate to high in terms of bandwidth utilization by guests, as users are often streaming movies or television on their devices. Peak usage times are usually evenings and weekends, when the guest rooms are occupied. For hotels with conference centres, peak usage will also be event-based. By comparison, most applications for back-of-house operations usually do not take up significant bandwidth.

Budget Consideration

The desired functionality of the network may exceed the funds available to implement it. That said, budget can often help focus the designer on what requirements are critical vs. nice to have. Budget may constrain the choice of AP hardware and vendor, though often this helps from overdesigning the network. eTribeca’s extensive experience allows them to provide cost-effective solutions that do not compromise on quality.

Aesthetical Consideration

In general, people don’t like seeing antennas, which tends to lead to using APs with internal antennas that are less noticeable. Many higher-end hospitality environments will take it a step further, where so much energy and money has been invested in the look and feel of the décor that they do not want to see the access points at all, irrespective of how that affects the actual functionality of the APs. Some venues may require physically hiding the APs in access panels or above drop ceiling tiles. eTribeca’s solutions ensure that network hardware integrates seamlessly with the venue’s aesthetic requirements.

Mounting Restrictions

In a hospitality environment, this generally means whether or not there is Ethernet wiring available in the individual guest rooms/suites. It is almost always better to put wired APs into particular guest rooms, but hallway deployments are sometimes unavoidable, especially in motels and in older hotels that don’t have the wiring infrastructure and where installing such wiring would be prohibitively expensive. eTribeca can assess the property’s infrastructure and recommend optimal deployment strategies to overcome these challenges.

External Interference

If the hotel is reasonably isolated from other buildings, there is unlikely to be any external interference from other sources of Wi-Fi. Most hospitality locations, however, are specifically placed to be convenient to access for their intended guests. Hotels in urban or dense suburban environments are therefore likely to have significant exposure to Wi-Fi interference from neighbouring buildings. Even when using auto-channel and auto-power algorithms, the levels of interference may prove problematic in certain parts of the building. eTribeca’s advanced interference mitigation techniques ensure reliable performance even in densely populated areas.

With over 25 years of expertise in the wireless industry, eTribeca is your trusted ally for hospitality Wi-Fi projects. We deliver solutions that exceed expectations, using advanced tools and technologies like heatmap Wi-Fi analysis and consultations with wireless network specialists. Our tailored enterprise Wi-Fi solutions meet the specific needs of hospitality environments.

Transform Your Hospitality Wi-Fi Network with eTribeca

Partner with our Wi-Fi experts for a robust and reliable wireless network designed for your hotel’s unique requirements. In today’s connected world, having the right partner makes all the difference. eTribeca is more than a service provider; we are your strategic ally in hospitality wireless networking. Together, we can build a strong foundation for your hotel’s success and guest satisfaction.

Connect with eTribeca today and take the first step towards a flawless wireless experience. Your perfect hospitality wireless network is within reach.

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    eTribeca LLC is a company that specializes in emerging communications technologies. To the Fortune 500, we are their Wireless Design Integrator. For medium-sized businesses, we are engineering Wi-Fi installation and fulfillment.

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