No-Strings-Attached Hospitality

By Team Digit Published Date
01 - Mar - 2005
| Last Updated
01 - Mar - 2005
No-Strings-Attached Hospitality
With information technology changing the face of corporate India, it was only a matter of time before this had an impact on other businesses. Cities in IT hubs of the country are facing a new challenge-catering to the tech savvy clients. Even hotels are not spared of the ever-changing needs of this fraternity. Perhaps, they could take a leaf out of Hotel Golconda's book and create a haven for the tech-enabled traveller.

"Thanks to IT, the face of Hyderabad has changed in the past decade. Today, the hospitality industry in particular, is catering to a new segment-IT and Biotech professionals-who demand certain services and use those facilities actively," says Suresh Reddy, executive director, Hotel Golconda.

Located in the heart of Hyderabad, Hotel Golconda, which falls into the three-star category, recently installed a Wireless LAN on their premises. This wireless "hotspot" has been deployed across five floors (and two more would be networked soon with six additional access points). Guests can now access the Internet from anywhere in the hotel at an additional charge of Rs 200 per day.

Internet access being a prerequisite for almost all business travellers, Wi-Fi enabled hotels have become more the norm than the exception. In India, deployment of Wireless LANs has largely been restricted to four- and five-star hotels (about 200 such hotels in India are Wi-Fi enabled).

Wi-Fi Central
Golconda, which derives its name from the majestic fort located on the outskirts of Hyderabad, is nearly 15-years-old, and has a capacity of 150 rooms. Says Reddy: "The hotel was inaugurated in August 1989 and has been renovated since. About a year-and-half ago, we were one of the first hotels in Hyderabad to offer Wi-Fi connectivity to our customers. The response has been excellent."

To set up the Wireless LAN, Cisco Aironet 1100-series Access Points were deployed across five floors. The hotel also invested in five 350-series Access Cards (to be rented out to guests) which, when fitted into the laptop, would enable Internet access. Apart from the rooms, Wi-Fi connectivity is also available at the business and convention centres and at the restaurants. "At our business centre, we provide computers and broadband access to clients who don't carry laptops," says Reddy.

Reddy says that the LAN has been optimised to ensure high speeds and seamless connectivity within the premises and to minimise channel interference. Interactive TV, video-on-demand and video streaming services are on the cards.

'Broadband Is The Key'
Wireless networking enables sharing an Internet connection across a Local Area Network (LAN), without using cables or drilling holes to insert network cables. 

Wireless LANs (WLANs) are popular in office environments, where laptop/notebook users can stay connected all the time, even while on the move within the premises-especially in places where a network cord may not be available.

Test your Wi-Q! 
(a) Wi-Fi is an acronym for ________ __________, a widely accepted set of standards for Wireless Local Area Networks (WLAN). The standards pertaining to range of Internet access and transfer speeds.
(b) According to, there are more than _________ Wi-Fi hotspots around the globe.

(c) Q3, 2004, saw _______ _________ lead wireless LAN sales worldwide, with nearly 43 per cent market share, according to Synergy Research. Symbol Technologies (15.9 per cent) and Airespace (bought over by Cisco recently) with 5.7 per cent, grabbed second and third places respectively.
(d) Wi-Fi access points or 'Hot Spots' usually have a range of ___ to ____ feet. Laptop owners require a wireless network interface card (PCMCIA Card) to connect to the Internet.
(e) Business travellers can find wireless access points across the globe using the online services dubbed ________ _________.

While WLAN deployment was an expensive option a few years ago, today WLANs are being viewed as viable alternatives to cable-based LANs. WLANs are being installed in homes and SoHo environments as well.

In India and abroad, WLANs are extremely popular in offices (Enterprise and SMB), warehouses, hospitals, educational and professional training institutes, airports, and of course, the hospitality industry.

"Enabling connectivity is an integral part of customer service, especially in the hospitality industry. It's no longer a perk, but a necessity," says Varghese M Thomas, Senior Manager, Corporate Communication, Cisco Systems (India and SAARC).

Cisco's offerings in the Indian Wireless market include Linksys systems for the SoHo segment and the Cisco Aironet solutions for the Enterprise segment. 

"Not just hotels, but in cities such as Bangalore, Wi-Fi access is available even in studio-houses which are being rented out to business travellers or IT professionals on the move," says Thomas.

There is great potential in India for wireless connectivity, but increased broadband proliferation is the key to its success. Hardware is still expensive here in India, and people need to know that broadband can be used for a lot more than faster data transfer.

"Most business transactions take place online now, and if we have to keep pace with international deals, Small and Medium companies must consider investing heavily in broadband," adds Thomas.

Early last year, the city of Philadelphia in the US, launched a massive initiative to set up the world's largest wireless hot spot spread over 135 square miles of city-space. Placing small transmitters around the city, which could communicate with wireless networking cards, the network would enable citizens to access broadband Internet connection from practically anywhere in the city, free or for a minimum charge.

While Wi-Fi-enabled cities are a distant dream in India, wireless LANs are helping the Indian hospitality industry match its counterparts abroad.

The race to capture the business travellers mindshare has gone high-tech… will WiMAX be the next trump card?

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