Top 5 non-obvious reasons why hotel wi-fi is so slow
1. No bandwidth policy.
A few devices are using the majority of the bandwidth to stream movies or to watch videos.
Bandwidth allocation should be dynamic with caps during peak hours.
Current methods of allocating a hard cap at all times actually reduce visitor experience when the excess capacity could actually be utilized because it is available.
Choosing the right equipment is crucial to maintaining a good customer experience.
2. Low bandwidth backhaul
How do you size for data traffic? Is Comcast sufficient? Have you considered microwave? It is not sufficient to provide a basic service since hospitality is so competitive. On average, customers do a hotel search seventeen (17) times before booking. One bad review might be sufficient to lose a potential customer.
It is important that hotels recognize that sales and IT need to work together and create usage management processes to help IT provision based on anecdotal factors rather than guesstimates. Wireless lan controllers all offer network management tools but these must be synergized with sales data to maximize a hotel’s return on investment.
3. Open network- no passwords required being abused
How do you track who uses your network? Even though the bandwidth of the router maybe 300Mbps with 802.11n, most times the internet package provided to the hotel is much less. This means that while you are paying for that bandwidth, someone else is actually slowing you down, not to mention the security risks it poses. At a minimum use WPA2-TKIP with rolling keys.
4. Too many connected devices
Access points have limits on the number of connections each of them can support. While having one access point may provide coverage for a small conference room, that one access point may not support the number of devices that need to be connected, which includes tablets, laptops and smartphones.
A capacity design needs to be done to ensure that the number and location of access points support the natural aggregation of people across your location.
5. Bad design
This is the number one culprit. Many hotel networks are designed by engineers who never visit the location to do a survey, understand the signal attenuation based on the building material nor the volume of people that occupy particular spaces such as lobbies, restaurants, front desks etc
In addition, no consideration is given to the proximity to other wi-fi networks. Working with companies that really understand Radio Frequency (RF) engineering is key. Some vendors are install shops and place routers based on eyeballing the location. Access points then receive interference from other wi-fi networks with the result being that packets are dropped, making the network significantly slower. So while the client is seeing a strong signal, they are unable to connect or even get on to the internet.so that users are too far away from the routers.
We have seen routers placed in corridors. However no consideration is given to the fact that most times, the bathroom is closest to the corridor and the desk is furthest. The result is that the signal drops off considerably by the time is gets to the desk area. Most of the usable signal covers the bathroom, effectively reducing the benefit of the wi-fi investment.
We have seen too many of this and had to re-design for effectiveness. Hotels would be well advised not to swap out old access points for newer access points such as 802.11n and 802.11ac by putting them back in the very same locations that didn’t work before.