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Hotel Talk: Powering the Connected Guest Experience

By Derek Peterson
  • Article
  • 5 min read

Every hotel, big or small, prioritizes one thing: to deliver a remarkable guest experience. To achieve that goal, wireless connectivity is essential. Guests expect a great 5G cellular connection and fast Wi-Fi in the room, at the pool and everywhere in between. We’re a people tied to our mobile devices because our phones are our entertainment, navigation, our payment methods, they secure our transportation, find our restaurants and capture memories.



We’ve entered a new frontier of the connected hotel experience. And, it’s just the beginning. The hospitality industry is undergoing a monumental shift toward connected everything. Digital transformation powered by 5G is making biometric access points, robotic food delivery, automated lighting, intelligent heating/cooling and more readily available.

As technology advances, we see benefits to the guest journey and the venue bottom line, with an added element of ease for guests and automation for staff. Helping to overcome staffing shortages and streamline day-to-day activities, digital tools are proving to have a positive impact on the bottom line. Think self check-in kiosks and in-room tablets for service requests and food ordering. All helping to alleviate on-site teams. Additional cost savings are realized through a wide variety of environmental and sustainability tools that are becoming standard throughout the industry helping to reduce environmental impact and reduce utility related costs.

In recent history, it was typical to outfit a hotel with just a public Wi-Fi network. This singular network was designed to support both operations and guests. However, with skyrocketing mobile traffic, bandwidth-hungry connected applications and increased device demand, public Wi-Fi networks are becoming overextended. Too much traffic can result in reduced network speeds and an inability to power additional applications. To continue adding more and more devices and keep pace with the digital age, existing hotel Wi-Fi networks need support.

Furthermore, as hotels look to adopt connected applications for operations such as advanced camera systems and mobile point of sale kiosks network security comes into question. When personal and/or critical applications are being powered, the network must be secure, not shared with unknown public users. We hear daily of cybersecurity breaches and the hospitality industry is not immune to the threat. The connected lifestyle is a mega data producer. Our digital footprint leaves a data trail that contains private information such as credit card details, address, birthday, etc. As hotels implement more connected devices and convenient mobile tools, it’s critical to ensure networks are secure, continually monitored and designed with automated scans and alerts to prevent cybersecurity threats and protect the privacy of guests and valuable hotel information.

We currently stand at a pivotal moment in the adoption of next generation technologies, where sheer bandwidth and data security are driving a network infrastructure shift. So, how do hotels make a hyperconnected property possible? What is the most cost-effective path to supporting the explosion of connected operational and guest devices? Do current networks have the bandwidth to scale for future growth? Are they secure enough?

This is where we see the concept of technology convergence enter.



Convergence has led to nearly every digital advancement. 30 years ago, it was common to carry a cell phone and pager to stay in touch and have a landline phone at home. As wireless networks became more sophisticated and wireless devices got smarter, these services started merging. Text messaging made the pager obsolete. 3G networks made it possible to send and retrieve email from your cell phone and surf the web. Smartphones, 4G and the cloud changed the game, converging nearly every business function in the palm of your hand.

With 5G, convergence continues to evolve. To create a hotel network with enough bandwidth and security, you must consider pairing complementary technologies together. It not a matter of this vs that, but rather a combination of network technologies that are going to supply secure, high-bandwidth coverage throughout a property.

Wi-Fi and distributed antenna systems (DAS) are the tried-and-true solutions that have been, and will continue to, power hotel properties. Private networks are a newer solution being deployed to take connectivity to the next level, elevating IoT and operational capabilities. Let’s take a look at all three.



Wi-Fi is a technology that has served the hospitality industry well. Wi-Fi allows for the sharing of information and the ability to easily acquire information. Wi-Fi provides guests with a single sign on option that keeps them continually connected without draining cellular data plans. Think posting a vacation video to social media or quickly sending a work email.

Wi-Fi will continue to be a staple with the availability of advanced Wi-Fi 6 and 6E, as well as the roll out of Wi-Fi 7. Wi-Fi 6/6E and Wi-Fi 7 deliver increased speed and capacity for heavily trafficked areas.



DAS works by deploying hundreds of small antennas to bring cell signals inside a building and closer to guests and staff. DAS is an excellent wireless network solution that fits two unique characteristics of hospitality venues large, expansive properties with many hard-to-reach places.

DAS enables strong internet connections above and below ground, indoors and outdoors, for properties that include lots of land. It also provides coverage to typically difficult to reach spaces such as elevators, stairwells, and parking structures.

Without DAS, it can be challenging to communicate with staff dispersed throughout multiple buildings of sprawling properties. Implementing DAS helps ensure that both guests and staff enjoy uninterrupted, strong wireless connectivity everywhere. Furthermore, as DAS is carrier neutral, a multi-carrier system can allow all mobile users regardless of provider to enjoy uninterrupted coverage as they move throughout the hotel.


Private networks

Private networks, commonly referred to as private 5G, private mobile networks or private cellular networks, are just that, private. They are closed door networks designed with layers of security and robust capacity to power critical applications. With more and more connected devices that require a greater portion of a network’s power, public hotel Wi-Fi networks are being expected to take on more and more. Applications such as digital signage, biometric access points, augmented reality headsets, VR entertainment theaters and more all require connectivity. And lots of it. To accommodate the everyday demand and support the connectivity requirements of hotels, the hospitality industry is turning to private networks to augment existing network infrastructure.

This network choice is seeing an uptick in interest because it offers the best of the big five reliability, security, latency, bandwidth and coverage. Fitting for hotels, private networks can be deployed for a very specific area to provide comprehensive, dedicated coverage to operational use cases like security cameras, kiosks and digital signage. And, the network is designed to securely support only the applications selected and can reliably power even the most complex use cases. To maximize digital transformation at hotels and casinos, private 5G networks are the perfect match.



In many ways, 5G is all about productivity. According to Accenture, combining emerging, connected and smart technologies can save companies up to $16 billion. 5G excels at connecting devices with other devices at a remarkable speed. With 5G we can impact how we do business, as it brings unmatched bandwidth and speed enabling a whole new tier of operational applications. These applications introduce automation and predictive patterns, so applications can learn and self-operate. 5G makes automated transportation, robotic cleaning machines, intelligent heating/cooling platforms and virtual reality possible.

Whether you have a multi-acre, rural resort property or a densely populated city location with nonstop network interference, 5G will play a big role in operations. With digital transformation top of mind, 5G cannot be ignored and it’s important to consider implementing now to ensure your network can accommodate 5G use cases.



Digital transformation is nothing without the proper connectivity backbone. The devices and applications promising to wow guests and improve operations require connectivity, and in most cases powerful wireless connectivity. Thankfully 5G, private networks, DAS and Wi-Fi are all great solutions.

The key is to partner with an experienced team. The right partners will prioritize your end goals and select a network design and technology solution that best fits the use case. Seek out a partner that provides ongoing support to help offload your IT and front of house teams. You don’t need to go it alone. Today’s network providers, like Boingo Wireless, design, build and manage projects, providing 24/7 network security monitoring and maintenance. Find the right partner and put your digital transformation plans into action.

Article originally appeared on Hotel Executive.