Dublin hotels combine WLAN and fixed broadband

11 Dec 2003

Visitors to Dublin’s Davenport and Alexander hotels can now avail of fixed and wireless local area network (LAN) broadband access throughout both buildings. The O’Callaghan Group, which operates both hotels, has claimed it is the first in Ireland to offer this combined service.

The wireless and wired networking capability has been supplied to all guest bedrooms, the lobby and restaurant areas as well as the function rooms. The service will initially be free of charge but from next month it will be priced at €10 for 12 hours use and €15 for 24 hours access.

Users will be given a username and password the first time they log on to the service. Depending on their laptop, a small configuration with the system may be necessary. The company said that guests can also use some laptops available in the reception areas in the unlikely event that their own portables are incompatible with the system. All hotel staff are also being trained to help users who may be unfamiliar with the technology.

The fixed service runs at speeds of 100Mbps; the WLAN service operates at 11Mbps in the bedrooms and 54Mbps in the common areas. The investment needed to install the networking equipment in the hotels came to more than €150,000.

According to Julie O’Brien, director of sales and marketing at O’Callaghan Hotel Group, investment in the networking capability was not as high as it might have been; when the Alexander and Davenport hotels were being built, the proprietors had the foresight to fit suitable cabling throughout the entire infrastructure, which meant that it was already equipped for fixed networking.

Interestingly, the O’Callaghan Group has chosen to set up and manage the network by itself. Over the past year, several hotels and public areas around Ireland have rolled out WLAN services, but the organisations involved have usually got into bed with a telecoms or mobile operator to do so.

The O’Callaghan Group had originally installed wireless LAN in parts of the hotel with a third party. However when the hotel chain wanted to extend this service to include all bedrooms, the third party chose not to become involved because it was not seen as financially viable. Earlier this year, analyst firms had questioned the business case of public wireless access points.

However O’Brien pointed out that guests at the Davenport or Alexander hotels had the choice of either fixed or wireless access. “Certainly it will attract clients because it’s a question of flexibility. We’re making ourselves available to a wider market.” The Davenport and Alexander hotels have a mainly corporate clientele, she added.

The company’s IT director Gerry Colreavy told siliconrepublic.com that by owning and operating the wireless and wired infrastructure itself, it would have greater control of the service and would be able to offer a quick response to customers and fast problem resolution in the event of network issues.

By Gordon Smith