What causes a bad hotel wifi experience? Well, there could be many factors, but we’ll go over the main wifi problems in this blog.
1. The internet connection
This is all too often the main issue, either the Wide Area Network (WAN), also known as simply the internet connection, or how it’s being used.
This could be because the speed or bandwidth isn’t sufficient, or too many unwanted devices are hogging all the bandwidth at the expense of other users.
When it comes to bandwidth in a hotel, there are a few things that need to be considered:
- How many guests do you need to provide for?
- Does this include a restaurant, bar, gym and other facilities?
- Do you have extra meeting/conference facilities that could add to the number?
Bear in mind that most guests travel with 2-3 devices (phone/tablet/laptop) and a good percentage will want to stream their favourite Netflix boxset or films whilst onsite! Who pays for hotel films anymore? Oh, and to do that requires some serious bandwidth as most guests want to watch HD quality streams – at 5Mbps per device.
Add onto that, Microsoft Teams/Zoom/Google Hangouts etc for business calls, apps, such as Slack for instant communication and emails with attachments, you can soon use up all the available bandwidth. Bear in mind asynchronous (large download/small upload) connections such as ADSL are negatively affected on the download if the upload connection is saturated.
2. Web filtering and rate limiting
So, you’re one of the few that has a great internet feed – what else could be providing the guests with a poor experience?
Well, how each individual device can use that connection.
Are you filtering what sites users can go to?
Now most hotels don’t want to limit their guests too much, but you certainly want to ensure they aren’t engaging in illegal activity if you can help it.
After all that can come back to bite you. Can you prove it isn’t staff who were engaged in those activities?
A good guest wifi portal with URL filtering and logging should be able to provide this.
Next up is rate limiting – what upload and download speeds do you allow per client device?
This really depends on what size internet pipe you have coming in and how many client devices are likely to be using it at any one-time.
It may be that you want to offer a free low bandwidth solution alongside a premium high bandwidth paid option?
You need to work with your wifi provider to ensure this is optimal for your venue.
What manufacturer and model of access points do you have or need? Is it enterprise grade equipment? It should be, as depending on the design you could have 30-40 devices connected to a single wifi access point (AP). Restaurant, meeting rooms and conference areas are usually even higher.
Wifi access points vary greatly and even if you’re using a good manufacturer, you may require different models for different areas. Models vary in CPU/Memory/Ethernet-ports/number of antenna and wifi standards supported.
Enterprise grade system also incorporate a Wireless Local Area Network (WLAN) controller that can help optimise the network “on the fly”. Lesser systems don’t usually have this functionality or don’t do it well.
4. Poor network design
A proper network design is essential. A good design is the cornerstone or foundation for all that follows. Get this right and everything else will come. Ok, you get the idea – but it really is that important.
So, the first task is a wifi site survey of the venue, which includes (but not limited to) taking measurements and getting a physical inspection of the site to determine optimal access point placement, physical barriers, such as walls and floors, capacity requirements per area, existing ethernet cabling and any extra cabling that may be required.
We never want the access points to be above ceilings in between ductwork. They always work best in open areas and even better when deployed in the rooms (as opposed to corridors). A pre-survey questionnaire is also forwarded to the client to determine current WAN connection size and type, firewalls, switches, access point models and any other areas of concern.
Wifi coverage isn’t usually the problem nowadays, it is more likely to be some form of capacity or interference issue. Wifi access points can interfere with one another to create a slowdown across the network and to get fast speeds, you also have to ensure one AP doesn’t cover too large an area. A good design will minimise the chances of this happening.
5. Not managing or meeting guest expectations
Now, you may have covered all the above but are still receiving guest complaints.
There are a number of usual suspects at this point:
- You’ve ran out of IP addresses – the subnet isn’t large enough or the Dynamics Host Configuration Protocol (DHCP) lease time is too long. Usually both.
- WAN connection is flaky or saturated.
- Switches or access points are down and not servicing clients.
- Clients are connected to the “wrong” access point – not the nearest to them.
- Do you use a guest wifi portal?
- If so, can guests logon via acceptance of terms and conditions, email address or social media login? If so, this can cause issues – usually user issues or the logon page doesn’t automatically pop up making it easy to sign in.
To help with the above we operate a 365, 24/7 UK based help desk. This covers both proactive and reactive support:
- Proactive – we monitor the internet connection, firewall, switches and access points and receive alerts should any issues arise. We can usually fix 90% of problems this way – most before the venue even realises there is a problem.
- Reactive – taking calls from reception or the individual user on any specific problem. The help desk can then “see” the user device on the network to determine the exact issue. These problems are usually fixed within a few minutes and whilst the user is on the line.
If you need any further advice on wifi problems in your hotel, please don’t hesitate to contact us.