I have heard many people say that the iPad changed everything when it comes to hotel WiFi but why do they say this and are they right?
The iPad has been a highly successful product for Apple (see below for cumulative sales reported by Apple) and been copied by many of Apple’s rivals since then.
However, the impact on hotels is not just because of the volume of devices which have been sold, there are two other main areas in which this “game-changing” device has impacted on the service provision. When designing the iPad, Apple decided that it was important to ensure the device had a long battery life but didn’t feel it was as important to ensure it had a strong antenna. As a result, hoteliers experienced the same phenomenon that would be noticed on a smaller scale by consumers: the wireless network that had served them well for five years or more was now no longer meeting their needs. As a technical aside, it is generally agreed that -72 dB coverage is sufficient to ensure most laptops are able to connect to the access point whereas to provide coverage for an iPad or other hand held device the coverage needs to be -65 dB (this might not sound like a large difference but since dB is a log scale, it equates to about a six fold increase in power).
Secondly, the iPad design and features make it the ideal device for video. In combination with the growth of online availability of video content this meant that the usage pattern of hotel guests changed from occasional bursts of data to a consistent video stream. The iPad was popular for both business and leisure use (and indeed users) and, not surprisingly, all types of hotels found that the bandwidth that was required to ensure an appropriate guest WiFi experience rose significantly.
The combination of these two different drivers mean that the cost of WiFi provision to a hotel rose as the iPad drove an increase:
- In CAPEX as a result of requiring an increased number of access points to cover the hotel
- in OPEX as a result of requiring an increase in bandwidth delivered to the hotel
If your network is meeting the needs of laptop users but not that of tablet users and you are uncertain what to do then please contact Veridicum.