Meeting the challenges of tomorrow without disposing of yesterday’s infrastructure
Ten years ago, the internet had become the new “cash cow” for hoteliers, replacing the telephone and VoD, which, one by one, went into decline, and eventually disappeared as profit centres for the hotelier.
Indeed, when it came to return on investment, charging clients ten or fifteen Euros or dollars a day (or sometimes even per hour), HSIA (high speed internet access) was a real winner. Ten years ago, this was the key reason for any investment in IP infrastructure. Today, as we all know, this has changed, and guests expect not only free internet access, but it has to be fast and reliable. Otherwise many will not come back to the “offending” establishment. There are in fact many reasons that a hotel room should be integrated over IP network. According to recent research, HD IPTV, uni ed communication and integrated room control are the most important technologies when it comes to the guest experience and are worth investing in. The importance of migration to an IP infrastructure is becoming increasingly important.
In the past few years, when it came to talking about “the big three” in terms of in-room technology – TV, Wi-Fi and Phone – it has become apparent that an “All IP” solution was the smartest.
Indeed, in general, all new hotels have a solid network that enables the connection of devices of all kinds both in-room and for staff.
In the case of re-fits, installing Cat 5 or Cat 6 cabling throughout (or even optical fibre) is in its easiest form an expensive and cumbersome headache, and in many cases is just not an option. The result is that countless properties continue to deliver under-par services in a market in which this can now be “make or break” in terms of business.
So investment in upgrading one’s IP network is however vital for any hotelier. There is also a fast growing demand for interactive services in-room (and even in bars etc), guests expect a similar level of entertainment in the hotel room that they have at home, they have numerous mobile devices that need to connect to the network, and integrated room controls (which add a great deal of convenience for the guest during his or her stay) also increasingly require a local IP connection.
GUESTS EXPECT A SIMILAR LEVEL OF ENTERTAINMENT IN THE HOTEL ROOM THAT THEY HAVE AT HOME
This growing demand has, as we mentioned already, entailed the replacement of existing Coax to an IP infrastructure.
The implementation of an All-IP Solution is made possible by using what is known as a CMTS (cable modem termination system) server.
This unit, housed in a central location at the hotel converts IP to RF signals using “DOCSIS3.0”, to distribute IP contents over Coax cable. Data Over Cable Service Interface Specification (DOCSIS) is an international telecommunications standard that permits the addition of high-bandwidth data transfer to an existing cable TV (CATV) system. It is also employed by cable television operators to provide Internet access over their existing hybrid fiber coaxial infrastructure. In a hotel, the cost of such a system had been prohibitive, due to the very high price of the server (generally over US$30,000), however, today, servers such as the one designed by Teleste are available for as little as US$2,000- 3,000.
This results in an investment saving of up to 80% compared to installing a new IP network.
SAMSUNG INTRODUCES HE694
Taking the logic of delivering IP to guest rooms via coax one step further, Samsung has developed HE694, a system utilising the TV as a “hub” for all services in the room.
The creation of an Ethernet Bridge from the TV by using the “LAN-Out” feature offers additional connection with IP devices, including Apple TV (offering Airplay service and iTunes content etc), VoIP installation – offering all the advantages of IP telephony, and LAN connection for laptops – enabling guests to connect directly to the network if they so wish.
The advantages of such a system include the fact that there is no need for separate routers in each guest room (meaning time and cost efficiencies), no need for reconstruction to support extra LAN cables, and the possible addition of Hotel Management System, Bluetooth music player, DLNA and even screen mirroring. There is no need to close down a hotel while refitting, as each room can be upgraded sequentially.