People remember horror Wi-Fi experiences. You’ve have heard it all “The Wi-Fi is too slow”, “I had no connection in my room” and most annoyingly for your guests “I appear to have been overcharged for my Wi-Fi usage”. It’s frustrating, right? You want to provide an exceptional service for your guests and yet there are still ongoing problems.
This quick guide will help you identify some of the problems, resolve issues and prevent the same problems from happening in the future.
1. Access Point Location
Hotels often make the same mistakes when installing a Wi-Fi network; They place the access points in the hallways and to make matters worse the access points are placed in the ceiling behind a panel. Consequently, the performance is significantly degraded before it is even turned on. By the time the signal reaches the hotel room it is barely usable at best. Have your guests ever wanted to use Wi-Fi in the hallway? If not, you need to think strategically about the best location for your access points, that will ensure optimum coverage.
NetWireless advises that an access point will need to be installed in each guest room and you may even need two access points installed for a multi-room apartment.
The construction of the hotel walls and layout of the rooms also need to be considered when placing Access Points inside guest rooms. Generally, the walls between rooms are concrete to limit noise between rooms. The bathroom is normally placed near the entrance to the room and these are also generally constructed of concrete.
An access point should be mounted on the ceiling or high on the wall near to the suggested work environment.
For aesthetic purposes a specialised cover can be mounted over the access point to conceal it. However, note that hiding the access point in a cupboard will cause degradation and may impact performance.
2. Required Internet Bandwidth
You will need to calculate how much Internet bandwidth is required when every hotel room with Wi-Fi is occupied. You also need to understand the limitations of your local Internet provider and ideally you will have a fibre node installed in your hotel. (You might as well stop reading now if you think it’s going work satisfactorily over ADSL).
Decide how much bandwidth you will want to have in each room. This will be variable based on the internet services you want to offer. For this example, let’s assume your hotel has 100 rooms and you require 10megabits up and 10 megabits down (assuming one device per room has been installed).
To work out the predicted bandwidth required for your hotel:
100 rooms x 10megabits = 1 gigabit Internet link
Further to this, you will need to consider coverage for the restaurant, café, lobby areas and perhaps the gym/day spa and pool. You will need to estimate how many people can occupy the space at the same time. Let’s assume this is 100 people:
100 people x 3 areas = 300/0.20 = 60 estimated number of active devices.
• We assume that 20% of devices will be in use at one time.
• Add this number to your number of devices per room.
160 rooms x 10megabits = 1.6 gigabit Internet Link
Warning: If you host conferences or functions, you will need to ramp up your internet speed as required.
Therefore, in this example it would be recommended that your rock bottom fibre link is 1.6 gigabit up and down. Use your estimate to ensure your local internet provider will be able to sufficiently supply your needs.
3. Access Point, Switch Capability and Speed
Access Point speed should be equally distributed between each device to ensure one access points’ usage does not impact the use of the remaining points.
Core switches are located in your main computer room and essentially patch the internet signal to your local network. Your core switch should be enterprise grade and capable of fibre up-links equal to your required internet bandwidth to the edge switches. NetWireless also suggests installing two core switches in case, one of the core switches were to fail, there would be less disruption to your service.
Edge Switches are connected by a fibre link to your core switch. Each edge switch maybe representative of a floor level in your hotel, therefore they need to be capable of up-links equal to your required internet bandwidth to the core switch. The switch needs to be 802.3 at compliant for PoE to power the access points. Best practice is to supply two edge switches per floor as not every room on the floor would lose its Wi-Fi Signal in the event of an outage.
To ensure a seamless flow of traffic, all switch ports should be capable of 1gigabit as standard.
About NetWireless Solutions
NetWireless is an IT service provider specialising in vendor independent Wi-Fi solutions for the corporate, retail, hospitality and distribution environment. www.netwireless.com.au
For further Information, please contact:
Trevor Pangbourne, Technical Director
NetWireless Solutions Pty
1300 324 844