After a Which? survey earlier this month highlighted the continued division between hotels that offer free Wi-Fi and those that charge for internet access, Max Preston, the owner of the Hotel Ceilidh-Donia in Edinburgh, contacted BigHospitality to say that despite wanting to offer free wireless broadband he was unable to find a supplier who would provide a continuous good signal.
When Preston bought the hotel 14 years ago he fitted each room in the 18 room establishment with 'Cat5' ethernet cables for guests to use to access the internet on their laptop but these are now essentially defunct with many guests surfing the web on mobile or tablet devices which don't connect to wall sockets.
After moving from wireless supplier TalkTalk because of lack of capacity Preston took a BT Business Hub which provides BT Openzone wireless but has still found problems with no other companies he has contacted able to help.
"Nobody will guarantee it and the costs are phenomenal," Preston said. Despite numerous site visits, aerials and new routers Preston has been unable to get a good enough signal to all rooms in the hotel to satisfy his customers.
BT 'urgently reviewing' situation
The Wi-Fi from BT, Preston said, was not strong enough for his guests as the coverage sometimes does not reach 30m when he was assured it would reach 100m.
"They sell you this package and they're not interested after that. If it doesn't reach that is your problem," Preston claimed.
In response, a spokesperson for BT explained that a number of factors could be affecting the quality of the wireless signal including the building and the wiring.
"We are sorry that Hotel Ceilidh-Donia is experiencing issues with its Wi-Fi connection and are urgently reviewing the situation. It’s not practical to run a Wi-Fi service from a single Business Hub in a hotel of this size; we will discuss this with the customer in order to arrange a more suitable solution," BT said.
Guaranteed WiFi possible
Daisy Group who provide communication advice to businesses said it was possible to get guaranteed good Wi-Fi strength in every room in a hotel.
Steve Wanklyn, head of hospitality at Daisy Group plc said: "Following a thorough survey of the hotel, engineers will be able to recommend the correct type, number and locations of the Wireless Access Points (WAPs) needed to guarantee complete coverage for all the rooms."
Although there can be problems with the size or materials of the building, "It may be that a hotel needs a WAP in every room, or every two rooms, but if a good quality survey has been conducted and the recommendations have been followed it is completely possible,” Wanklyn added.
Managing guest expectations
Caroline Blakey, who runs the Lee House Lynton guest house in Devon, said she was warned at the time of installation that she might be unable to provide wireless to all of her hotel rooms but that she thought it was worth installing the Wi-Fi if only for some of the rooms.
"We do point out to our guests that quality and speed can be affected by their equipment and the number of people on the internet at any given time. Perhaps managing guest expectation helps," Blakey said.
The problem for many hotels who are unable to provide full Wi-Fi is negative reviews through internet sites. Preston said he has suffered from poor reviews and was considering limiting the download limit for people to stop the system becoming blocked.
Daisy Communications recommend all companies have a thorough site survey to determine their requirements, how many WAPs they may need and the likely cost.