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Building a Better Mousetrap for Hotels

By Mike Collado
February 12th, 2013

SOLiD INFINITY ACCESS POL FTTR Solution

We announced yesterday that we’re debuting  the INFINITY ACCESS™ Passive Optical LAN (POL) Fiber-to-the Room (FTTR) solution for hotels during the 9th Annual HTNG North American Conference at the Westin Buckhead in Atlanta, February 25-28. 

This solution enables dedicated, symmetrical and secure high-capacity Gigabit Ethernet (1GE, 1Gbps) links to each hotel guestroom for delivery of next-generation IP-based voice, data and video services such as 4KTV.

So what’s the big deal?

The Challenge

Hotels are being challenged to provide multiple forms of high end connectivity to their guests as travelers become more tech savvy and increasingly dependent on staying in touch with the office, email, family, etc. while away from home. In-room entertainment in the form of HDTV, Video on Demand, streaming music significantly add to the load.

The amount of bandwidth per guestroom has and will continue to increase dramatically for some time.

This follows the overall bandwidth consumption trend forecasted by iGR: by 2017, mobile bandwidth in the U.S. will grow six fold from 2012 levels

What Must Be Done

Hotels need to deliver voice, video, and data to guestrooms, conference rooms, gym/spa, and even restaurants in a cost-effective manner that provides ample bandwidth for today’s needs.

More importantly, there needs to be a pathway for future growth as internet bandwidth demands increase; guestroom television viewing advances to 4KTV from today’s HDTV; and voice moves to VoiP.

The most economical way to do this is by delivering individual Gigabit Ethernet circuits to each room from a centralized server in the hotel’s data center.

Copper-Based Ethernet

One option is to deploy copper-based 1GE over existing Ethernet infrastructure in the hotel. This would alleviate running new cabling in the building.

Sounds good, but the risk is that the existing copper plant may not be high enough quality to support 1GE speeds.

What’s worse is that this path would provide little-to-no future growth because the physical medium will not support higher data rates (i.e., 10Gbps).

Fiber-to-the-Room

FTTR is the other option. While it will require deploying fiber optic cable from the data center to each floor and then from the data closet on each floor to individual rooms, fiber has the upside of being relatively easy to install and, most importantly, will provide almost unlimited room for future bandwidth expansion.

There are two basic ways to move data to the rooms: traditional GPON (Gigabit-capable Passive Optical Networks) and WDM-PON (Wavelength Division Multiplexing-Passive Optical Networks).

With GPON, a single fiber is deployed from the data center to a splitter in the floor closet, where individual fibers run to each room.

The upside is that GPON is established technology, cost-effective and widely-deployed.

The downside is that bandwidth per floor is shared among the rooms; that bandwidth is also asymmetrical.

And, while upgrading bandwidth is possible, it must be done on all devices at once. Which reveals a key risk: sharing. IOW, if a remote unit malfunctions, it means taking down an entire section of rooms. 

WDM PON – which is the technology SOLiD’s INFINITY ACCESS is based on – also uses a single fiber to the floor closet splitter and individual fibers to each room.

The difference is each room is served with its own unique wavelength running symmetrically at 1Gbps up and down stream.

Upgrading bandwidth to 10G is possible on a room by room basis, without affecting other rooms on the floor.

And service is maintained among a sector of rooms even if one room is down for maintenance because the individual wavelengths run to each room.

What Do You Think?

We predict an interesting debate among the hospitality industry with arguments for all three approaches.

Our take, however, is that the “data tsunami” trend in mobile broadband is similarly finding its way into the hospitality space (and other industries). And, therefore, it will be incumbent to choose and deploy infrastructure that is both highly scalable, stable and flexible.

We always enjoy interacting with you… in-person at industry conferences and SOLiD training events as well as virtually through The Inside Story (please subscribe) and on LinkedIn (follow us).

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