One of the most important factors travelers consider when booking a hotel is a property’s internet access. Speeds and reliability is one of the most common complaints on review sites. Free wifi for guests is standard at most hotels, but fast and free access are usually not the same things. As mobile devices continue to gain popularity, bandwidth demands and costs are going to continue to rise. Online streaming services like Netflix and YouTube account for most of the bandwidth used today, and guests are bringing these services and their demands with them when they travel. In order to stay competitive, hotels need to keep pace with guest’s access needs.
The infrastructure to support a property wide secured wireless network isn’t cheap, but this can be one of the biggest factors in slow connection speed. Even if a property is paying for faster service, their hardware can severely limit the network’s capabilities. Once a property installs their access points they tend to forget about them until one breaks. With how quickly technology evolves this hardware is usually out of date compared to the devices guests are using. Replacing wireless access points with a more current wireless standards can help to better manage bandwidth demands, but several high bandwidth guests can still bring down the speed for everyone else.
To help manage bandwidth usage some hotels are looking to companies like Whotspot to provided “Tiered Wireless Access” plans for their guests. Offering free access to slower speeds for guest looking to simply check emails and surf the web. Paid tiers will give access to increased bandwidth speeds for streaming movies and online videos or other high bandwidth services. These services can help to offset the cost of upgrades and upkeep of a properties network without raising room rates. Some properties have taken steps to block access to high bandwidth websites, but completely restricting access to the most used sites on the internet will inevitably lead to an upset guest.