Keeping Pace With HSIA

Just because high-speed Internet access has become a hotel commodity doesn't mean it's static. In fact, say vendors and users alike, HSIA standards are being refined, users are more discriminating and what used to be very expensive a mere five years ago is far more down-to-earth.

When AmericInn International launched 20 years ago, HSIA wasn't a concern, says Jan Bedzyk, director of purchasing for the select-service chain. Now it's a guest expectation, whether wired, Wi-Fi or both. All Americ-Inns are built of concrete, so the earliest ones are Wi-Fi, because hard-wiring an existing building of concrete was impossible, she said. But new-builds feature both Wi-Fi and the hard-wired HSIA mandated for many government and military employees with stringent security needs.

“The old ones maintain a wireless status, and that does deter some of our guests,” Bedzyk acknowledges. “Last year, we changed our specification to have both wired and wireless to meet all of our guests' needs. No one needs to be tethered anymore.”

What differentiates HSIA providers is support, says Bedzyk. AmericInn guests — and owners — demand live, 24/7 help access for HSIA. “If you can go into a Starbucks Coffee or Borders Bookstore with your laptop and obtain service,” Bedzyk says, “you better be able to do that within all areas of your hotel.”

“A lot of franchisors are updating HSIA standards,” says Jason Tienor, president and CEO of Telkonet. Costs are going down, too: “Contracting for two, higher-bandwidth lines today may not be more expensive than the original line was five years ago.” That's particularly important for larger properties where multiple users can overload a system and create an outage. In such cases, two lines can spell relief and keep the HSIA running.

“That one night of outage is going to impact that guest's decision to return to your property.”

And demand will only grow. “HSIA technology is becoming more secure, more stable, more ubiquitous,” says Tienor, who travels with a MacBook Pro and an iPhone. “I believe it's going to evolve. Look at its uses today, from dual-service phones, e-books, tablet computing — all these devices require specific abilities and needs, and when you extend it beyond personal computing to the entertainment space and talk about xBox being carried by guests, all these things need to be seamless on a hospitality network.”

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