Addressing the Bandwidth Capacity Crunch
By Jason Guest Account Manager, Americas, Aptilo Networks | April 07, 2013
Wireless has become a clear revenue-generator for the hospitality industry. Hotels are working hard to adopt Wi-Fi technology as fast as possible to leverage the enormous potential wireless offers.
In the rush, hotels are getting caught in what the industry calls the "bandwidth capacity crunch:" networks are getting more crowded, with the skyrocketing adoption rate of smartphones and other wireless devices, and the increasing popularity and use of bandwidth-heavy applications. As a result guests are looking to hotels to provide fast, easy access to the Internet. Unfortunately, many hotels are unable to handle the load because of old infrastructure or simply the exponential growth in demand – it's hard to keep up.
Guests expect the same fast download speeds, the same unlimited access, as they do at home, whether they're checking email, downloading presentations or video, watching streaming movies, talking on Internet calls. This expectation sets a high bar for the hospitality industry.
Wi-Fi offloading has become one of the best ways for mobile operators to address the capacity crunch. Wi-Fi offloading is when a smartphone user stops using the 3G/LTE or WiMAX network and jumps onto a Wi-Fi network instead, perhaps at a Wi-Fi hotspot. Everyone wins in this scenario: carriers are able to "offload" users to Wi-Fi and off of their data network, freeing up their network. Users benefit from faster data speeds. Also, many devices are optimized to use Wi-Fi, as battery life is improved and the device processes data faster so things seem to move more quickly from the user perspective. Additionally, many applications are available only over a Wi-Fi network.
Clearly, Wi-Fi is here to stay, and for the hospitality industry the demand for ever-more capacity will only grow. What can hotels do to address this? And how can they leverage new options such as Wi-Fi offloading to their advantage, for new revenue streams and to increase guest loyalty?