Deciding what to base your hotel or resort voice/data network infrastructure on … T1, DS3, OCx, fiber, ethernet, etc. … can be complicated and frustrating. There’s much to consider to reach a decision that makes business sense. Ensuring you address guest needs for laptop, PDA, etc. is of course paramount.
Firstly, I would put hotels in the Multi-Dwelling Unit/Multi-Tenant Unit (MDU/MTU) category.
Secondly, we need to split this into high speed connectivity within a hotel and high speed connectivity backhauling traffic from the hotel.
Thirdly, we need to consider the physical media, i.e. copper, fibre or microwave.
The emphasis is towards an end-to-end Ethernet architecture at all layers, i.e. at the physical interface, service and transport layers. Each hotel room will come with a cheap Ethernet port for connectivity and can easily bandwidth requirements. Common areas like the swimming pool and lobby will have broadband wireless access.
The thing about backhauling traffic back towards the service provider is that service providers have their capital ‘sunk in’ their E1s/T1s. An end-to-end Ethernet infrastructure promises a lot, but very much depends of these service providers making an overhaul to their access networks.
This in turn depends on demand and also product availability. Why? As an example, we need to consider managing Ethernet SLAs in the same manner as E1s/T1s, so we need an equivalent to the smartjack devices. Yes, they are available, but we then need the economies of scale to make it worthwhile. Why add cost to the E1/T1 revenue stream?
There will also be other instances to consider. Tall buildings like hotels usually have masts at the top for cellular access. There will be sync requirements for these rooftop cell sites. Although the push is towards Ethernet and packet, TDM (T1/E1) will still play a big part till the end of this decade. Saying that, standards bodies like the MEF and also equiment vendors (no surprise here as they could do with additional sales) are accelerating the development and deployment of Ethernet.
Laptop connectivity can be achieved by means of a data card that makes use of the cellular network. Cellular operators now also offer WiFi access (co-located).
Wireless broadband and wireless broadband services are driving wireless evolution (2G -> 3G -> 3G+ -> LTE) and also convergence.
WiFi, WiMAX, etc. all provide the ‘front-end’ air interface. Wireless broadband is indeed driving wireless evolution (3G+, HSPA, LTE, WiMAX).
We also need to have sufficient bandwidth to backhaul the additional bandwidth requirements brought about by these air interfaces. When we talk about E1s/T1s (PDH), we are talking about this backhaul bit. Hotels come under the MTU/MDU category. Very often, especially in metro areas, such buildings will have fibre laterals that connect to a MAN fibre infrastructure provider.
You should probably consider differently VOIP and data/internet. My suggestion is that you might decide to offer the second but not the first. Why?
– Internet/data access is now a “must-have” commodity for guests and meetings, and the hotel is most probably the single best-placed organization to provide that.
– VOIP is a cost-effective solution, but there are other solutions: mobile phones or the hotel phone lines.
You might consider that you MUST provide good internet access, with some business model that allows you to deliver the needed bandwidth, eg “free” for hotel guests, and a flat daily rate for meetings organizers (a low price based on the number of attendees).
For phone, you might consider blocking VOIP (or more precisely SIP) access, and allowing 3rd parties to handle that with their business model. Of course, this will allow some skype-like calls through your data connection, but you will not be judged on quality here. Generally speaking, any hotel looking into what network technology makes the most business sense for guests, dedicated business suites, and conference activities … needs to do their homework and not jump without a thorough analysis. For help with that assessment, I strongly suggest taking advantage of the no cost research and support available through DS3-Bandwidth.com.