The problem with cheap bandwidth for hotel WiFi
For years, one Internet Service Provider (ISP) that services the majority of our markets could provide outstanding bandwidth at very affordable rates. While others were offering 5 Mbps plans, this provider was offering 25, 50 and even 100 Mbps plans at similar prices.
It wasn’t “guaranteed” or “managed” bandwidth, but it more than covered a hotel’s WiFi needs. It was reliable and affordable, and typically provided the bandwidth advertised. We recommended this ISP to any client within their service area.
In our experience, Western Canada led North America with fast, dependable Internet service.
Houston, we have a problem…
But there’s a problem. A big problem. Many homes and businesses bought into this ISP’s cheap bandwidth solution, to the point that the ISP’s network became saturated with more iPads, iPhones, laptops and smart TV’s than it could handle.
As a result, those 100 Mbps connections that served our hotels in the past aren’t delivering anywhere near that level of bandwidth now. Sure, a hotel may get close to the advertised speeds from time to time, but peak demand outside the hotel often brings these networks to their knees. It doesn’t matter how good the network is within the building, the incoming ISP connection limits the potential of any network. And because the connection varies so much, it’s impossible to predict service levels.
One of Liveport’s employees has the same 100 Mbps connection we recommended to hotels in his home. He’s located near an ISP hub station, so he’s used to seeing speeds on his home network near the advertised speeds. However, earlier this week his home network (along with the rest of the community) experienced the same issue many of our clients do. Take a look.
This is a bit technical but I’ll try to give you a picture of what’s going on and how it can affect your network. Let’s break down the numbers:
- It took 237 MS to ping a server. We expect to see this number below 5. That means it is taking more than 400 times longer than normal to connect to any website.
- Download speeds were 99.5% slower than the advertised speed. The network essentially ceases to function at this low of bandwidth.
- Upload speeds weren’t as severe but still came in at 65% slower than advertised speeds.
- Despite paying for one of the top packages (the last chart), this employee was getting speeds consistent with the most basic tier.
The bottom line is that this type of hotel Internet connection, though more than adequate in the past, may no longer meet the needs of your hotel.
With more than 400 hotels in service, we can see what works and what doesn’t. And we consistently see that hotels with a managed connection (such as fibre-optic or point-to-point wireless from companies like Terago) significantly outperform hotels on shared broadband networks. Premium WiFi simply requires a premium Internet connection. The cost is significant–usually 4-6 times more money than a shared connection–but because WiFi is the most important guest amenity, hotels going this route don’t look back.