Hotel chains gear up for triple-play services

14 Dec 2005

Communications equipment maker Allied Telesyn has completed its 40th implementation of new technology that allows hotels in Ireland to provide in-room video-on-demand, telephony and internet services to guests.

The latest hotel to offer this service, known as triple play, is Dromoland Castle in Co Clare. Allied Telesyn has already completed similar installations for 40 hotels around the country, including several that are part of hospitality groups such as Ramada, Hilton and Clarion. The value of the deals to date is €750k.

Allied Telesyn worked on the contracts in partnership with VDA Ireland, a supplier of entertainment systems for the hospitality sector. In Dromoland’s case, the hotel recently upgraded its entire infrastructure with Category 6 cabling, which is capable of handling the internet protocol (IP) traffic to individual hotel rooms.

In a hotel room set up for the service, the television set supplied by VDA Ireland is specially configured with an Ethernet port, allowing it to receive signals via IP rather than the standard TV cable. The entertainment server, also supplied by VDA, hosts more than 2,000 audio tracks and 30 movies that customers can listen to or watch on demand via the interactive TV service. This server also integrates with the hotel’s property management system for guest billing.

The on-demand services are accessed via an onscreen interactive menu. “It’s proper digital video on demand,” said Gavan Smyth, country manager for Allied Telesyn. “It’s not movies starting every half an hour – you can pause, fast forward or rewind the movie.” Hotel guests also have the option of accessing the internet by plugging their own laptop into the Ethernet cable provided in the room, or by using a menu on their TV.

As competition between international hotel brands intensifies, the ability to offer these kinds of premium entertainment services becomes important in attracting customers, said Smyth. “The hotel sector has really grasped that very effectively,” he told “To sell rooms, you need to differentiate yourself and that means offering video on demand, not just TV.”

With triple play, a combination of digital TV, internet and telephone services are delivered to guests’ rooms over a single line rather than different cables. The Allied Telesyn gear manages quality of delivery for the various services. “Quality of service is very important when you’re talking about three feeds converged,” Smyth commented. It ensures, for example, that internet access is provided securely. “There is a virtual local area network in each hotel room so room number one can’t see room number two from a security point of view,” said Smyth.

According to Smyth there is still “considerable growth” in this market over the coming year. Allied Telesyn also intends to partner with other companies to provide triple-play services to the telecoms, education and private healthcare sectors in Ireland.

By Gordon Smith