“What’s Next” Technology in Your Hotel?  Start by Building a Solid Foundation

Mathew Fitzgerald By: Matthew FitzGerald, Director Systems Engineering

At Ruckus, we are often asked: “What’s next?” Our answer covers IoT, 802.3bz, 802.11ax, more content options, plus more and smaller devices, and it always includes “and whatever you can imagine!” The follow-up question for hotel owners is, “How do we prepare?” Having your network ready for 5GHz and 802.11ac and understanding the value of in-room access points (APs) are some examples of Wi-Fi readiness.

We believe a solid foundation is critical to the future success of your hotel’s technology strategy. Your network should be able to handle today’s demands and scale up to support future requirements.

Ruckus has been working with hotels on Wi-Fi since the early installation of 802.11b/g. Hotels have transitioned through many Wi-Fi standards and advances: 802.11b to 11g, 11g to 11n, 11n to 11ac and eventually placing more emphasis on 5 GHz over 2.4 GHz. While there have been financial outlays, frustration, mistakes and hard lessons, as an industry, we’ve learned that proper AP placement is the cornerstone for a solid foundation. And, while standards and Ethernet switch architecture evolve, cable foundations provide a great conduit for the coming wave of new technology. It’s yet another layer to build on.

As the next big Wi-Fi protocol update, 802.11ax, hits the market in 2018, the physics of the unlicensed 2.4 and 5GHz bands will remain unchanged and should allow for changing AP endpoints, not the cabling. Moreover, 802.11ax will be doing a lot more in the same spectrum and coverage area.

Having the correct cabling media, power sources, design and architecture is one of the most important decisions you will make concerning Wi-Fi protocols. The Layer 1 choices you make today will impact your network for years to come. We are now seeing APs that are truly over the 1 GbE mark, such as the Ruckus R720 and, in the future, 802.11ax APs. These APs will also require greater PoE power budgets—Ethernet switches will need to provide power greater than 802.3af (15.4W) or even 802.3at (30W), and they will need to support PoH (60W).

Ruckus sees this as a staged process unfolding over the course of several years. To help hotels move in this direction, we have rolled out switches in the ICX 7000 series, which support 802.3bz (2.5GbE over CAT 5e  and above) and PoH. As you plan your strategy and budget for Ethernet switching, be sure to include switches with the capability of the ICX 7150 Z-series for key applications such as conference areas.

Yes, more wireless is coming to hotels. At Ruckus, we are doing more with 3.5GHz LTE (OpenG) and radio technologies like Zigbee, BLE, Z-Wave and others. These run on top of the Ruckus platform in a Ruckus framework that provides control, visibility and analytics. The foundation of Ruckus wired and wireless products will allow new radio services to be added quickly and cost effectively to your hotel network. We’re very excited about this development, so stay tuned.

Of course, having this great technology in a hotel without a way to manage it would be like letting heat out of the window in winter. Ruckus offers a suite of software solutions—the SmartZone WLAN System, Smart Cell Insight Analytics and SPoT Location—that work together to provide full control of the system, advanced monitoring and detailed analytics. We continue to develop our products with an eye toward allowing holistic views of all our equipment (wireless and wireline). With many available options—from on-premises equipment to hosted solutions—a hotel can choose the model that fits their needs. Plus, the Ruckus architecture and our advanced APIs enable integration with third-party partner solutions, resulting in an end-to-end networking ecosystem.

Ruckus has been committed to the hotel industry since our inception and continues to focus on this sector. To learn more, visit us at HITEC in Toronto on June 26-29 at booth 1829. See the Ruckus HITEC Event Page for details or to arrange a meeting. We look forward to seeing you in Toronto or at your property!

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