An alternative to Active Ethernet, fiber-distribution technology POL evolved from the PON technologies that operators use to deploy residential fiber services. Because PON can share bandwidth via one fiber and deliver data to end points over passive splitters, it's more affordable than fiber. And since POL-based fiber distribution networks include traditional operator technologies like optical line terminals (OLTs) and optical network units (ONUs), it's a strong fit for telcos.
That said, network integrators that have often served hotels' WAN and LAN needs have been quick to embrace the hospitality industry's demand for fiber. Cablecos and telcos interested in this opportunity must quickly leverage their own history of SMB or enterprise success, their relationships providing other communications or content services, to compete head-on with integrators and other IT providers stepping into the fiber footprint.
As many a traveler can attest, hotel broadband can be unreliable, slow and prone to malware, regardless of the room's cost. Yet this essential service is viewed as critical, according to many surveys. Consider:
65% of guests log on to hotel WiFi within seven minutes of checking in, according to a 2016 survey of British travelers
Most -- or 82% of -- US guests connect to in-room WiFi. But 66% want an easier way to connect and one-third were unhappy about access difficulties, according to a 2017 Oracle report.
Complementing operators' increased focus on smart homes, travelers want to use hotel-provided tablets, their own smartphones or their own voices to control their rooms' ambience via apps for lighting, temperature, drapes or other conveniences. Given providers' expertise in this segment, expansion into hospitality would appear a natural segue, especially when combined with FTTR and security -- both virtual and physical.
For the most part, though, hotels are reluctant to take this step.
"Among [guests'] top choices: hotel-provided tablets (32%), their own smartphones (27%) and voice activation (25%). But there is a disconnect between guests' growing interest in this capability -- 29% said it's 'very or extremely important' that hotels invest in smartphone apps to control room environment -- and hotels' seeming reluctance to allocate resources for these projects," the Oracle report said. "With the exception of US chains and some German independents that have installed smart panels for climate control, hoteliers reported no plans to introduce technology to address this issue."
Resting easy with POL and PON
After deploying FTTR and GPON, SpringHill Suites by Marriott in Dayton, Ohio, sprang into the top 1% of all SpringHill Suites. Implemented by network systems integrator UberData Networks and Tellabs, the solution includes Tellabs' optical LAN that can deliver more than 500 ports of Gigabit Ethernet connectivity via single mode fiber cabling using passive optical distribution network architecture. The network integrates the hotel's voice, smart IPTV, ultra-broadband, WiFI and security system over one fiber-based, future-proof infrastructure, according to UberData.
That reliable, high-speed broadband integration directly resulted in the hotel's high ranking based on "superior guest experience with the network connectivity," said Bob Ritter, vice president of operations at Middletown Hotel Management, which operates SpringHill Suites in Dayton. The network, which now handles 1Gbps, is easily upgraded to 10Gbps when necessary, he said.
In addition, the integrator converged the hotel's original three networks -- voice, data and video -- into one fiber-optic network, saving capital and operational costs. And the hotel eliminated its prior telecom rooms, repurposing them for business and guest-service needs.
For clients like Marriott, VT Group's broadband fiber-to-the-edge solution includes a GPON ONT in each room and a fiber access point to provide each guest with "great access," said Blayne Schorr, sales director at the IT integrator, in a video on Calix' site. Guests then can use their own device to connect to the room's television (which Marriott now calls a display) to view Netflix, for example, he said.
Just as telcos rely increasingly on Gfast for multi-dwelling units (MDUs), historic sites and other buildings where fiber is not yet an affordable option, VT Group uses Calix' Gfast products for hotels that do not want to deploy fiber or redo their cabling, said Schorr. (See Urbanization Turns Copper Into G.fast Gold)
"We're real excited to be able to go into these hoteliers and say, 'Over your twisted pair, over your coax, we can put Gfast and bump up your bandwidth, bump up your throughput to the room, ten-fold.' It's really exciting that they won't have to redo their infrastructure," he said.
In newbuilds, VT Group recommends GPON and fiber-to-the-edge or FTTR, using Calix 1Gbps or its upcoming 10Gbps AXOS solution, said Schorr.
Deutsche Telekom just signed an infrastructure project with the Gigabit Region Stuttgart, home to 174 municipalities and almost 3 million people, one of many partnerships the German operator has inked in its bid to grow revenue and business.
Mobile and cable operators represented half the managed SD-WAN services market share in this fast-growing space, while other broadband providers such as ISPs and satellite operators also appeared on Vertical Systems Group's ranking.
By slashing subscriber pricing by more than $30 billion annually, Low Earth Orbit satellite companies led by Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk as well as OneWeb have the potential to usher in a whole new era of broadband.
In this insightful Light Reading radio show, Kurt Raaflaub, Head of Strategic Solutions Marketing, will outline the key service provider challenges, deployment considerations, next-gen Gigabit technologies, and service models to win market share in the rapidly growing MDU market.
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