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Setting up a wireless hospitality network: 3 things to keep in mind

January 03, 2017

Setting up a wireless hospitality network: 3 things to keep in mind

A quick glance at online reviews is all you need to see that hotel guests don't just expect great Wi-Fi connectivity—they demand it, and if they’re unhappy, they’ll make sure everyone online knows about their bad experience.
According to HT Magazine’s 2016 Lodging Technology Study, one of the top 3 priorities for hospitality customers is bandwidth, with 45% of those surveyed indicating that they plan to prioritize spending to increase the reliability of their wireless network. Wireless networking is also tied for first place as the largest budget line item for hotels, alongside property management solutions.

Because of this, hoteliers are looking to increase their coverage and update their networks to accommodate rising demands.

Here are 3 things to keep in mind as you design your wireless network for hospitality:

1. Think fiber
Many hotels are now turning to fiber optics, or passive optical LAN, either directly to the guest rooms or as part of their fiber/copper hybrid networks. Why? Because the cost of implementing a fiber optic solution has dropped significantly over the last few years and it’s much simpler to work with than traditional copper solutions.

Hotels can also capitalize on fiber’s higher capacity because, unlike copper solutions, fiber doesn’t need to be replaced every five years and doesn’t degrade bandwidth over long distances. For example, a single fiber optic cable can replace wiring for Wi-Fi and cellular backhaul, building controls and triple-play networks, which increases performance and frees up space while enabling parallel redundancy—a real “win-win” for your hospitality customers.

2. Consider Ubiquiti

In the enterprise networking world, one vendor has been shaking things up like never before. Ubiquiti Networks is truly an original, offering super-quick installation in only a few hours, no licensing fees for your customers and no certification fees for you.

Along with all of this, Ubiquiti features less complexity and higher quality—something your hospitality customers will really appreciate—all at a surprisingly affordable price point, which leads to more profitability.

In one large-scale wireless network deployment for Estelar Hotels, a growing luxury chain in South America, solution providers were able to provide one single wireless network for two adjacent hotels, allowing guests to maintain a strong connection, whether they were roaming through the hotels or walking in the courtyard between the buildings. Better yet, all of this was accomplished using less equipment and provided at a lower price than competitors could match.

“In Ubiquiti, we found the technological solution to all our problems with wireless connectivity,” says Ernesto Castillo, who serves as head of corporate communications for Estelar Hotels. “This is evident in the satisfaction of our guests.”

3. Assessments first

Whether upgrading an existing hotel network or implementing a Wi-Fi solution from scratch, it’s always a good idea to do a site assessment first. This allows you to anticipate signal bottlenecks caused by metal doors or glass windows and helps you to gauge the number of access points you’ll need to provide the most consistent coverage for the entire hotel.

If you’ve been installing networks long enough, you may already have a handle on how to perform a professional site assessment. But if not, you might want to take advantage of Ingram Micro’s Professional Services team. They can send technicians out to your customers’ locations, no matter where they might be in the continental United States, and perform the site surveys for you—either as one of your own employees or as an Ingram Micro associate, as you prefer.

Even if you have been performing site surveys for years, you still might want to outsource the process to our team to help you free up your own staff for more strategic tasks.

Once the network assessment is complete, we can even help you deploy the solution so all you need to worry about is making the sale and maintaining the relationship with your customers.

Any questions? Please don’t hesitate to contact your Ingram Micro Professional Services team. We can help you every step of the way. For more information about setting up a thriving hospitality IT practice, check out this playbook