Hospitality WiFi: How Operators Can Change the Game

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At the end of this blog, we answer the following frequently asked questions in addition to other topics:

Q1. What is WiFi?

Q2. What is WiFi 6?

How Important Really Is Hospitality WiFi?

Operators are trying out different strategies to increase their market penetration in the Hospitality WiFi segment. Research suggests that over 95% of hotel visitors worldwide are known to check for internet connectivity prior to booking their rooms; poor quality WiFi is seen as a deal-breaker as stories keep surfacing about guests being forced to access the internet in the lobby or a coffee shop rather than the comfort of their rooms. It doesn’t have to be that way.

How Can Operators Solve Problems of Hospitality WiFi?

Using the right solution, operators can pitch several value-added services for hotels to solve their frequent pain points such as limited reach access points, expensive installation, unorganized WiFi and the recurring costs of dedicated IT teams.

For this, operators must aim to become an Experience Provider rather than a mere Service Provider acting on a vanilla internet offering. Examples of operator value additions could be tailor-made speed plans that address data consumption patterns of different guests, additional bandwidth-on-demand for multiple users in the same room or effective usage tracking to address revenue leakage.

It’ll also be a huge incentive for operators if they can offer Mobile Data Offload to their existing subscribers within the hotel WiFi range. Moreover, since the solution is entirely managed by the operator, regulatory and legal norms can be easily upheld.

What Are the Implementation Challenges Operators Face and How Can They Be Solved?

Currently, operators lack the mechanism to manage WiFi across multiple hotel chains straight out of a central console. This can be solved by going for a vendor who will offer a centralized, Cloud-based platform enabling operators to provide complete WiFi access infrastructure and internet connectivity on a Managed Services model. Hotels, on the other hand, face technical challenges due to the fact that their PMS systems have to be separately integrated each time with new WiFi network equipment in order to exchange charging information.

Operators can here make a value proposition by offering a complete, bundled solution that achieves single, one-time integration with available PMS solutions in the market.  This all-inclusive platform would allow operators to capture a greater slice of the hotel WiFi market than they presently do. Perhaps, the biggest plus point for Operators going with the WiFi business model for the hospitality sector is the fact that the same WiFi SMP platform can be easily extended to other business models; including newly emerging market segments such as large enterprises, residential, location-aware services, and so on.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q1. What is WiFi?

Put simply, Wifi is a technology that uses radio waves to create a wireless network through which devices like mobile phones, computers, printers etc., connect to the internet. A wireless router is needed to establish a Wifi hotspot that people in its vicinity may avail to get access to internet services. You’re sure to have encountered such a Wifi hotspot in houses, offices, restaurants, etc.

To get a little more technical, Wifi works by enabling a Wireless Local Area Network or WLAN, that allows for devices connected to it to exchange signals with the internet via a router. The frequencies of these signals are either 2.4 GHz or 5 GHz bandwidths. These frequencies are much higher than those transmitted to or by radios, mobile phones, and televisions since Wifi signals need to carry significantly greater amounts of data. The networking standards are variants of 802.11, of which there are several (802.11a, 802.11b, 801.11g, etc.).

Q2. What is WiFi 6?

WiFi stands for Wireless Fidelity and is also a common name for Wireless Local Area Network (WLAN). WiFi 6 is the newest and fastest version of the WiFi 802.11 wireless local area network specification standard. IEEE 802.11ax or commonly marketed as WiFi 6 by the industry body WiFi-Alliance is a major advancement over its previous generation that offers multiple devices to run concurrently on one network without compromising on the data speeds and response times.

The 802.11ax standard was approved by the IEEE on 9th February 2021 is designed to operate between 1 and 7.125 GHz, including the widely used 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz bands. To better understand, WiFi or Wireless Fidelity devices usually translate radio waves into binary code using a technique called QAM ie Quadrature Amplitude Modulation. The older generations of WiFi are capable of 256 QAM ie it could send 8 bits of binary data in a single transmission whereas WiFi 6 is capable of 1024 QAM ie 10 bits of binary data in a single transmission.

This significant increase helps WiFi 6 devices to provide 30% faster speeds than its predecessors. The previous WiFi standards like 802.11/a/g/n/ac used OFDM which meant all of the subcarriers or tones were allocated to a single device at any instance of time. WiFi 5 introduced Multi-user MIMO enabling multiple users on the wireless medium at the same time thereby adding multiple users across different streams with each device using all of the subcarriers.

With WiFi 6, OFDMA can now portion up the individual sub-carriers or tones and these can be allocated to a number of devices. Apart from greater bandwidths, higher data speeds snd lower latencies, WiFi 6 also offers better spectrum utilisation using orthogonal frequency-division multiple access (OFDMA), Multi-user MIMO support, better power consumption and enhanced security protocols.

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