Mandarin Oriental Makes WiFi More Accessible.
By Melanie Nayer ~ Exclusive Column
Thursday, 26th January 2012
What's a travelers biggest complaint? Paying for WiFi at hotels around the world, while the costs of WiFi varies and some hotels have worked free Internet access into package deals and membership reward levels, one hotel has taken it a step further.

The Mandarin Oriental New York just announced its new WiFi alternative: the hotel has installed ultra high-speed access by integrating Wi-Fi into standard wall outlets in all its guest rooms.

Why New York? The frustration builds for travelers when they are 750-feet up in the hotel at the Time Warner Center and can't get cellular data service, according to the hotel. While wired and wireless service was available, the lack of cell phone signal for downloads and data service caused travelers to become frustrated.

To help out, the Mandarin Oriental, New York was one of the first hotels to deploy a converged IP network and install Ruckus Wi-Fi wall switches in every room to help with cellular and wireless capacity and coverage.

"Given the guest demographic, the expectation for more reliable, higher speed and ubiquitous Wi-Fi literally exploded when smart devices like the iPhone and the iPad hit the market," said Oscar Gomez, director of information technology at Mandarin Oriental, New York.

Overall, the hotel group is looking to expand these capabilities in hotels around the world, including Tokyo, Manila, Jakarta, Sanya, London, and Hong Kong.

"As a group, we really liked the idea of having a 1:1 relationship between the access point and the guest which gives us the ability to provide more wired connections in each room without disruptive cabling," said VP of Information Technology of Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group David Heckaman in a statement. "We have seen it pay off for our hotels."

Since installing the Ruckus Smart Wi-Fi system, Mandarin Oriental, New York has seen user capacity more than triple and wireless traffic eclipse traffic on the wired network, while customer wireless complaints have dropped by more than 85%.

But the benefit isn't just for the guest. According to the hotel, the new wall-switch WiFi "dramatically reduces the cost and complexity of installing and managing wired and wireless network services."

Could this be a sign of things to come in other hotels? Yes, guests still have to pay for Internet at Mandarin Oriental hotels, but at least now they know their service will work - regardless of what device they're using.

Melanie Nayer is a hotel reviewer and expert on luxury travel around the world. She has covered all aspects of hotels including corporate restructures, re-branding initiatives, historical aspects and the best of the best in luxury hotels around the world.

Melanie writes a weekly exclusive column for 4Hoteliers.com
By Melanie Nayer ~ Exclusive Column
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