Are Blended Networks the Future of Wireless?
What does the future of wireless networks look like for tribal enterprises? What’s trending, where’s it all going, and how will the continuing innovations in wireless technology impact your business? Is Wi-Fi the answer? And what is this new tech called Private LTE/5G?
The truth is, a high-performance wireless network with pervasive, stable coverage and a high capacity will probably require both of these technologies to meet your guests’ expectations and the needs of your operations.
What’s going on in Wi-Fi today?
The quality of your Wi-Fi has become so important that it’s now a major factor in how your guests judge the quality of their visit. If the Wi-Fi at your property is slow, unstable, or has spotty coverage, then look out — you can expect to hear it from your guests in the form of complaints during their stay, bad reviews, and even worse, no return visits.
From experience, we all know what bad Wi-Fi feels like. But what does it mean to have “good Wi-Fi,” especially as it relates to the guest experience in hospitality and gaming?
For one thing, good Wi-Fi means pervasive coverage — an easily accessible Wi-Fi signal from anywhere and everywhere on your property. Another aspect of good Wi-Fi is stability — a signal that doesn’t fade or drop out altogether. Last but not least, good Wi-Fi is fast and has the capacity to handle an influx of users when your property is at its busiest.
Achieving each aspect of “good Wi-Fi” consistently and simultaneously has historically been a challenge for the hospitality industry (and all industries) until the latest generations of Wi-Fi technology — Wi-Fi 6 and Wi-Fi 6e— were introduced in 2019 and 2021, respectively.
“What’s so great about Wi-Fi 6 and 6e?” you may ask. For starters, Wi-Fi 6 is almost 3x faster than its preceding technology, Wi-Fi 5. But that’s not what makes Wi-Fi 6 and 6e so special. The real benefit of Wi-Fi 6 and 6e, especially when it comes to the busy, sprawling properties in the hospitality industry, is the ability to handle many concurrent users simultaneously with little to no degradation of the signal’s speed or strength.
With a well-designed, high-performance wireless network, your guests will be able to start streaming a movie on their device in their hotel room and continue streaming it without any interruptions or hangups, even as they leave their room and ride the elevator down to the lobby or casino floor. That’s the type of bullet-proof connectivity that’s possible these days with the right engineered design approach to a wireless technology solution.
But the benefits of a robust wireless network don’t end with optimizing your guests’ experience. In fact, there are real, quantifiable benefits that come from wirelessly connecting your on-site staff. In order to connect both guests and team members, some forward-thinking tech leaders in the hospitality industry are installing blended wireless networks on their properties.
Private LTE/5G – Emerging technology for things that are mobile
A Private LTE/5G network is a cellular network that you own, on a private spectrum that you control. By blending a private LTE/5G cellular network into your wireless strategy, your employees will be able to stay connected as they move around your property. With wireless devices in their hands, they can take food, beverage, and service orders and process payments from your guests wherever they are, in real-time, privately, and securely. Those handheld devices will no longer have to store the transactions locally, waiting for the employee to pass through an area of the property where the Wi-Fi signal works in order to transmit the transactions to the network. And it all happens on a private, SIM-authenticated network that is 100% secure.
And here comes the fun part.
After you’ve solved your guest and employee connectivity issues, that same wireless network will empower your marketing, entertainment, and hospitality departments to get busy coming up with new, technology-enabled strategies to blow your guests’ minds. Whether it’s BLE wayfinding to help navigate the property or an app that facilitates keyless hotel room entry, the possibilities to amplify your guests’ experience are endless. That network will also facilitate your data collection — the data from your guests’ behavior, your employees’ productivity, and your operations will help you make informed business decisions that grow the bottom line.
Wireless technology has been around for decades now, but the hospitality and gaming industries are just beginning to scratch the surface of what’s possible with a high-performance network. Like so many aspects of your business, the more work you do on the front end in the planning and design phases, the better results you will see on the back end. Before jumping into a massive overhaul of your wireless infrastructure, consider consulting with an experienced technology engineering firm to achieve the digital transformation that your property needs.
This article originally appeared on page 36 of the Spring 2022 Issue of TribalNet Magazine.
About the author:
Kit Keen is a Senior Technology Consultant for M S Benbow & Associates (MSB). He began his career as a telecommunications technician for AT&T and progressed into leadership roles. After almost 20 years with AT&T, Kit joined MSB in 2019 to provide wireless technology solutions to our clients nationwide.
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