San Francisco, December 2, 1997: GuestNet is pleased to introduce its next-generation, 100% digital video-on-demand service, the first of its kind available to the general hospitality lodging industry. The new system represents GuestNet’s continuing commitment to future-proof flexibility and continuing innovation through open-architecture, software-based technology.
The WindowsNT® operating system was chosen by GuestNet for its powerful
networking and multi-tasking capabilities. By utilizing the WindowsNT®
operating system, GuestNet can take full advantage of products such as
Microsoft’s® Back Office™ Intranet Solutions and NetShow’s™ streaming
multimedia server technology which is currently being tested with Microsoft
to provide advanced interactive information and media to the hotels guest
GuestNet employs “store-and-forward” digital video delivery technology to maximize guest access and system reliability. Throughout the month, movies and other video content are converted to digital files and are transmitted via satellite to GuestNet hotels and motels nationwide. Recent breakthroughs in satellite encoding algorithms actually allow “reconstruction” of any data bits lost during transmission, making true, broadcast store-and-forward 100% reliable for the first time. The receiving satellite dishes are 24 to 46 inches in diameter. At each site, the downloaded movie files are stored on the GuestNet Video Server’s hard drives, then converted and distributed to the guests’ televisions on demand. The system works through the hotel’s existing coaxial cable wiring, and no special set-top unit is needed.
GuestNet works with a variety of set-top and “smart-plug” technologies. “Smart-plug” technology eliminates set-top clutter and allows the guest to use a standard remote control to interact with the system. GuestNet’s feature-rich service includes Video On Demand, Video Games, World Wide Web Access, Folio Review, Video Messaging, Hotel InfoChannel, and Channel Guide.
GuestNet’s Internet capability is one of its most technically innovative features. GuestNet’s internal operating system integrates the communications standards and HTML graphic language of the Internet, allowing the GuestNet Video Server to easily act as a gateway to the World Wide Web. Guests use their remote control to scroll through GuestNet menus and services with the look and feel of the Web, creating a seamless transition to on-screen Web browsing and e-mail services. Web access will provide guests with a full array of entertainment and travel information, live stock market tickers, sports scores, and the ever-expanding myriad of other services and advertising available on the Internet.
This extremely efficient, low-maintenance distribution path eliminates videotapes and mechanical devices, takes advantage of the natural economy of satellite datacasting, and requires no new data wiring in the property, making GuestNet service feasible in sites as small as 75 rooms.
The WindowsNT® operating system was also selected as GuestNet’s software platform to insure compatibility with the new generation of Windows®-based Property Management Systems, as well as the older DOS-based systems, for automatic bill-posting and folio review. GuestNet closely consulted with hotel front desk managers during the design of the system’s Front Office Workstation, and has won rave reviews from hotel staffers in test-market properties for its quickness, user-friendliness, point-and-click convenience, excellent reports and logical layout.
GuestNet expects its main source of growth for the new technology to come from hotels and motels seeking to attract the sought-after business traveler demographic, by offering on-screen services which are both useful and extremely easy to use.
Continuing development efforts will include GuestNet’s High Speed Internet test site in Kansas City, Missouri, beginning in February 1998. This service will allow high speed Internet access to guests that wish to use their own computers. This revolutionary technology provides high speed data transmission over standard existing phone lines, eliminating the need to re-wire hotel rooms with high speed cabling. Working in conjunction with High Speed Internet GuestNet will explore the potential for “piggybacking” the hotel’s own internal Internet / intranet requirements on GuestNet’s internet gateway. The test will also examine the potential for third-party Web services and hyperlink placement.
GuestNet provides a complete service package of GuestNet technology, installation, maintenance, programming and content at no cost to its hotel customers. In addition, GuestNet offers Free-to-Guest channels via Digital Satellite Service (DSS) including competitive financing options.
GuestNet was created by software developer Command Video International and PPV operators Inn Room Video and Telesys. Internet and intranet products are being developed jointly with developer and backbone provider Q-Networks, Inc. The first generation GuestNet system, introduced in 1997, provides movies on demand, video messaging, folio review, automatic bill-posting, an interactive regional InfoChannel and Windows user interface. GuestNet is currently being deployed to Inn Room Video’s and Telesys’ United States guest rooms. In addition, GuestNet will be distributing and licensing its systems and technologies to other operators for use in the hospitality, healthcare and educational markets. Companies such as Results Communications, Inc. have already selected GuestNet as the primary operating system for its national hotel PPV franchises in Malaysia and Indonesia.