Providing guest Internet access in your Hotel can be a useful extra revenue stream and many customers now expect Internet access to be available. Systems can be as basic as a $50 WiFi router in the Hotel lobby or as complex as installing network points in each room and running an onsite server.
Guest Room or Lobby Access
The first question you should ask yourself is whether you want to provide access in every guest room or just in the lobby? Depending on the layout of your property it could become a much larger project to provide access in every guest room.
Wired or Wireless
Another important question is whether you want your guests to connect to the Internet via wired or wireless network connection. Generally speaking WiFi is more popular and easier to set-up. Wired (LAN) access can work better in situation where WiFi propagation is poor, such as buildings with very thick walls. Unless you already have Cat5 wiring in place it can cause a lot of disruption to run new wiring to each guest room.
Wireless – How many Access Points?
The easiest way to determine how many WiFi Access Points you require is to carry out a site survey. You’ll need a WiFi router and a Laptop. By setting up the router in a likely area (At this stage it doesn’t need to be Internet Connected) and walking around with the laptop you can determine how far the signal can reach. It’s worth trying different WiFi channels as that can sometimes make a big difference to signal strength. Some tips to increase the range
Mount the AP as high on a wall as possible.
Consider using an external antenna to increase signal strength.
Try to ensure a line of sight from the AP to the Hotspot area
Try to avoid placing APs near large pieces of metal or behind metal doors
Every property is different; in general if you have a multi-story property you may consider an access point in the stairway on each floor. For a more spread out property you may require several APs per floor.
Wireless – Connecting APs with LAN, WDS or HomePlug
Once you’ve figured out how many APs you require for your property it’s time to look at how they will connect back to your Internet connection. For just one AP that’s easy as you can choose to mount it near your cable or DSL connection. For several APs, especially if they are on several floors of a building it can be more work. One option is to use a wired network connection to connect each AP back to a central router that is connected to the Internet – In the trade this is known as a “backbone” connection. Another neat option is to use Wireless Distribution System (WDS). This is a protocol available on some WiFi routers that allows them to connect to each other to provide coverage of a greater area. The final option is to use HomePlug networking devices that transmit data over electrical wiring from a regular outlet. Two home plug devices could be used to connect a WiFi router on one floor of your Hotel back to your central Internet router.