Hotel Wi-Fi Evolution - What Does It Mean To IoT?

By Tony Heung Senior Director Global Product Management, Exceptional Innovation | January 27, 2019

In the past ten years, hotel guests have changed from using heavy laptops to connect to Wi-Fi using 802.11b/g with roughly 12Mbps practical throughput to ten years later using lightweight mobile and large screen tablets to connect to Wi-Fi using 802.11ac with the possible reach of 1Gbps throughput.  Many readers may not realize the iPad was not even launched until seven years ago on April 3, 2010.

Traditional Wi-Fi Design

Traditionally    Wi-Fi   Access    Points    (WAP) were installed in the guest floor corridor and one WAP would service six to eight guest rooms with some coverage gaps.  It was based on the assumption that guests would bring just one Wi-Fi device which is the laptop making the desk area in the room mandatory.  Today's business travellers bring on average three Wi-Fi devices, including a laptop (some may have already dropped it), tablet and smartphone.  And more importantly the location of where guests will use Wi-Fi is now everywhere and anywhere within the hotel property.

Ten years ago, internet was mostly used in one direction, i.e.: downloading, as all the network traffic was pulling down from static websites but not much for uploading.  Today the usage pattern has shifted since the introduction of Web 2.0 and the popularity of social networking and video streaming sites.  The upload and download network traffic ratio used to be 1:10 but is now getting closer to 1:1 in some hotel networks.

It is obvious that a ten-year old Wi-Fi network will not fit today's needs, so how can you foresee the Wi-Fi network you are installing today will not be obsolete in ten years?  

Today and Future Use of Wi-Fi Network

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Eco-Friendly Practices: Corporate Social Responsibility

The hotel industry has undertaken a long-term effort to build more responsible and socially conscious businesses. What began with small efforts to reduce waste - such as paperless checkouts and refillable soap dispensers - has evolved into an international movement toward implementing sustainable development practices. In addition to establishing themselves as good corporate citizens, adopting eco-friendly practices is sound business for hotels. According to a recent report from Deloitte, 95% of business travelers believe the hotel industry should be undertaking “green” initiatives, and Millennials are twice as likely to support brands with strong management of environmental and social issues. Given these conclusions, hotels are continuing to innovate in the areas of environmental sustainability. For example, one leading hotel chain has designed special elevators that collect kinetic energy from the moving lift and in the process, they have reduced their energy consumption by 50%  over conventional elevators. Also, they installed an advanced air conditioning system which employs a magnetic mechanical system that makes them more energy efficient. Other hotels are installing Intelligent Building Systems which monitor and control temperatures in rooms, common areas and swimming pools, as well as ventilation and cold water systems. Some hotels are installing Electric Vehicle charging stations, planting rooftop gardens, implementing stringent recycling programs, and insisting on the use of biodegradable materials. Another trend is the creation of Green Teams within a hotel's operation that are tasked to implement earth-friendly practices and manage budgets for green projects. Some hotels have even gone so far as to curtail or eliminate room service, believing that keeping the kitchen open 24/7 isn't terribly sustainable. The May issue of the Hotel Business Review will document what some hotels are doing to integrate sustainable practices into their operations and how they are benefiting from them.