1995 with Standard CAT 3 Wiring; Read How the
Owner Made this Hotel High-Speed-Ready
|November 2003 - As the notion of offering high-speed
Internet access to guests becomes increasingly widespread in the hospitality
industry, many hotels are left to ponder which of the several competing
access technologies are best for their guests, and their bottom line. One
of the biggest challenges in the industry today is that many hotels do
not have the wiring infrastructure in place to support high-speed access
solutions. One hotel, the WyteStone Suites in Fredericksburg, Virginia,
has found an effective solution that benefits guests and the hotel’s income
One intriguing alternative WyteStone considered was a system that would run Internet signals over the existing telephone lines. While Chason felt the system offered some benefits for the hotel, Chason and the company’s management team were not confident in the system’s speed and reliability. “It turned out that when the building was wired there were too many junctions installed, which created a problem with running the Internet signals over the phone system.” That left only two options.
Comparing Wireless and PLC Technologies
It really came down to a consideration of two different technologies: one, a traditional wireless solution that relies on radio waves to relay Internet signals throughout the hotel, and the other, a new solution, called powerline communications (PLC).
PLC systems use existing electrical wiring, present in almost all buildings regardless of type, to carry high-speed data communications signals. Essentially, this technology turns ordinary electrical receptacles into network access ports. A special device called a “gateway” helps distribute the Internet signal through the building’s electrical wiring, eliminating the need for installing dedicated CAT 5 wiring. Portable PLC modems that connect to desktop or laptop computers feature an ordinary electrical plug on one end. The user gains instant Internet access by simply plugging the special modem into any electrical outlet in the room and then plugging the modem’s Ethernet connection into their laptop.
Both the wireless system and the PLC system captured Chason’s attention since they avoided the hassles of installing wiring and offered mobility for guests using laptops in their suites. “We tested a wireless system and it worked very well in the front of the building. But because of the building’s density, the signals didn’t reach the back rooms at all,” he notes. The property, like many hotels, is constructed of brick and cast in place (CIP) concrete, which has a tendency to interfere with wireless signals.
The PLC system, as Chason found out, would face no such hurdles. Chason contacted Telkonet, Inc., a Maryland-based technology firm that offers a PLC solution called the PlugPlusInternet ™ system. Their proprietary technology transmits Internet signals over electrical wiring inside large commercial structures – such as hotels and other multi-unit structures – without any signal distortion or interference.
“Telkonet came and demonstrated the system. We were extremely impressed with the speed and distortion-free signal,” Chason reports. “We settled on this PLC system and had Telkonet install it in June.”
Installation turned out to be a painless operation, a far cry from the mess Chason would have faced if he had installed CAT 5 wiring. Telkonet conducted a technical survey at the hotel and determined that five couplers would need to be installed at the hotel’s electrical boxes. That same day, an electrician was brought in to perform these simple installations. A day later, a Telkonet modem was put in every suite, and the system was ready for use. The modems are placed on the desk in the front sitting area of each suite, but can be moved at will to the bedroom or anywhere else in the suite. With more than 10 electrical outlets in each unit, the Telkonet system offered the same degree of mobility guests might have experienced with a standard wireless system. But, there was another advantage for WyteStone as well: cost.
“I would say the Telkonet system cost about one-third of what a wireless system would have run us,” he says. “By comparison, a hardwired system with new cabling installed would have cost about three times more than the PLC solution we picked.” Early on, Chason decided to challenge one group of guests to see how robust the new Internet system would be. “We had a group of about 40 government agency guests staying with us that day, people who had been to our hotel before. I asked them to help us test the system and challenged them to try to slow down the system by all getting online at the same time. They did, and there wasn’t any delay in speed whatsoever.”
Another benefit Chason sees in the new Telkonet PlugPlusInternet system is its ease of use. “We don’t need a tech guy onsite to explain anything. That’s a big savings for the hotel. The modems come with their own easy instructions and our guests have never had a problem figuring out how to get online quickly. I would recommend the Telkonet system to other hotels any day. It’s a great high-speed solution and the company has proven to be very easy to work with throughout the process.”
|Also See:||Is PLC the easiest way to high-speed Internet in the guest room? / One-on-One Audio Interview with David Powell / October 2003|
|Telkonet to Showcase High-Speed Internet Access Solution at HFTP Annual Conference / October 2003|
|Telkonet Receives First Order From Noment Networks; Delivers High-Speed Internet Access to Luxury High-Rise Apartment / Oct 2003|