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June 24, 2015

Wi-Fi with a Twisted Pair for Guest Services 2.0

I recently spoke with Gary Singh, Head of Enterprise Network Communications, Product and Strategic Marketing at Zebra Technologies about their new TW-522, which is a dual radio supporting 802.11n and 802.11ac.

Combined with the T5 product, they represent a ‘power over Ethernet’ hospitality solution that represents a change in the way hospitality can service hotel guests.

First of all, let’s get to the specifics. Most hospitality focuses on the decoration side of the guest rooms.

I am going to protect the identity of the hotel that I frequent, while at the same time using it as an example. This hotel represents a place where my wife and I go to get away, and have for decades. One of the managers is constantly pushing me into the “newly decorated rooms.” The decorations are usually superficial, but I am sure costly. This feels like it happens every three years; they want me to be in a different part of the hotel.

This hotel is old and has many signal challenges for cellular and Wi-Fi. About four years ago they finally offered Wi-Fi, but it is not a lightning-fast system.

Now that I painted a picture, let me talk about Zebra Technologies’ capability, and what it would mean for this hotel.

First of all, the “redecorating” would not be disturbed. This system uses existing twisted pair (regardless of whether it is Cat 5 or not) and replaces the RJ-11 wall plate with the TW-522. It can support keeping the phone line if desired. On the punch-block side of the system is the T5 that supports power over “Ethernet” and VDSL. 

While the system is designed to go into one room, the management of the system expects the user to have multiple devices like laptops, smart phones, tablets and wearables.  It has support for iBeacon and Bluetooth.

Now take a step back and think of either being a kid “stuck” at a hotel, or having kids that want to be entertained. Think of what a change this is to the normal issues of being “bored” in a hotel room.  Now whatever the device is that you are using is supported, without having to fight about IP addresses and access time. The registration system supports roaming, so you can drag the kids out of the room while they are still playing their game, texting friends, and posting on Facebook their disdain for all grownups.

The important thing to note here is that speed-wise, the addition of 802.11ac makes this system feel just like you would get at home.

With this solution and the use of VDSL, the hotel can choose to deliver their own video services.

In my discussion with Gary, we talked about how the hotel phone is so rarely used these days.  Complaints, room service and wake-up calls are about all the hotel phone is used for these days.

Zebra Technologies’ solution enables the hotel to manage local content to be available on people’s personal devices. Rather than a rack of pamphlets, the local flavor can be integrated to the registration screen.

I have expectations that more announcements of implementations will be available soon. 

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