Mandarin Oriental, New York hides smarter Wi-Fi in the walls
One of the world's most prestigious hotels, the five-star Mandarin Oriental, New York, situated in New York's Columbus Circle overlooking Central Park, is one of the first to make a wholesale move to combine ultra high-speed wired/wireless access by integrating Wi-Fi into standard wall outlets in all 248 guest rooms. Mandarin Oriental, New York is one of seven acclaimed Mandarin Oriental hotels that have now installed Ruckus Smart Wi-Fi including Tokyo, Manila, Jakarta, Sanya, London, and Hong Kong.
Recognized as a leader in innovative technologies in the hospitality market, Mandarin Oriental, New York was one of the first hotels to deploy a converged IP network. Previously, Mandarin Oriental, New York was one of the first hotels to deploy technologies such as a distributed antenna system (DAS) to extend Wi-Fi and cellular signals, the first for IP-based voice, the first for stored and broadcast IP-video, and the first hotel to install plasma screens throughout the property.
According to the team at Mandarin Oriental, New York, the move to install Ruckus Wi-Fi wall switches in every room was driven by three growing issues: capacity, coverage, and user density.
"Given the guest demographic, the expectation for more reliable, higher speed and ubiquitous Wi-Fi literally exploded when smart devices like the iPhone and the iPad hit the market," said Oscar Gomez, director of information technology at Mandarin Oriental, New York.
"The hotel's previous implementation of Wi-Fi over our in-house distributed antenna system (DAS), was originally installed to provide better cellular coverage but as time passed and technologies changed, we found that it couldn't scale to accommodate the soaring Wi-Fi usage rates and concurrent connections our guests needed. We ultimately decided that an upgrade wasn't the right tool for the time," said Gomez.
According to Mandarin Oriental, New York, another key concern was available Ethernet cabling in each room to connect a growing number of IP-based devices such as minibars, IPTV, VoIP phones, in-room environment control systems, as well as Wi-Fi-based service optimization applications used by hotel staff.
Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group views Wi-Fi as a strategic component to improving overall operations and guest satisfaction across the brand's hotels. Housekeepers with iTouches use the Wi-Fi network for service optimization applications such as tracking tasks and keeping guest disruptions to a minimum. And Mandarin Oriental front-of-house staff use Mtech's HotSOS application over the Wi-Fi network to address guest-related service issues.
"As a group, we really liked the idea of having a 1:1 relationship between the access point and the guest which gives us the ability to provide more wired connections in each room without disruptive cabling," said VP of Information Technology of Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group David Heckaman. "We have seen it pay off for our hotels."
Since installing the Ruckus Smart Wi-Fi system, Mandarin Oriental, New York has seen user capacity more than triple and wireless traffic eclipse traffic on the wired network, while customer wireless complaints have dropped by more than 85%.
"In October of 2009, we were supporting approximately 2,600 unique wireless sessions generating over 336 gigabytes of traffic," said Gomez. "In November of 2011, these figures skyrocketed to over 12,000 unique wireless sessions generating over 2 terabytes of traffic just on the Wi-Fi network. That's a dramatic shift in a very short period of time."
In addition to deploying the Ruckus ZoneFlex 7025 Wi-Fi wall switch in all the guest rooms, Mandarin Oriental, New York also installed ZoneFlex dual-band 802.11n access points in the meeting and conference areas to support a higher density of concurrent users. Redundant ZoneDirector 3000 WLAN controllers provide a single point of management and control for the entire wireless infrastructure.
In the Wall Wireless With Wires
The ZoneFlex 7025 Wi-Fi wall switch integrates 802.11n Wi-Fi technology with wired Ethernet ports in a small-footprint (12.8cm by 8.5cm) wall jack, giving hotel and resort operators an elegant, low-cost, and inconspicuous device that allows them to leverage their existing wired infrastructure to deliver an ever expanding set of IP-based guest services over multiple virtual LANs (VLANs).
For many hoteliers, early Wi-Fi implementations are no longer able to keep up with the flood of wireless-only devices and bandwidth-demanding applications being used by guests and staff. Additionally, as many new services and hotel devices embrace IP as the preferred method of connectivity and management, the requirement for a converged wired and wireless network has quickly become a necessity. For hotels that have deployed an extensive wired Ethernet network, more ports are often required to connect new IP-enabled devices and support new multimedia services, but installing additional Ethernet switches in guest rooms can be cost prohibitive. Not only is it expensive and disruptive, but rewiring also requires more power and often involves special furniture designs to keep cables out of sight.
Deployed as a standalone device or centrally managed by any Ruckus ZoneDirector wireless LAN controller, the ZoneFlex 7025 Wi-Fi wall switch dramatically reduces the cost and complexity of installing and managing wired and wireless network services.
The Ruckus Wi-Fi wall switch is driven by a single power over Ethernet connection and provides four 10/100 Mbps Ethernet jacks and two uplink Ethernet wiring options. Additionally, the Ruckus Wi-Fi wall switch can provide PoE power to a device such as an IP phone and native connectivity to digital phones through a single digital PBX pass through port.
"We needed a solution to deploy in 100 percent of our guest rooms today that would solve our Wi-Fi issues, but also wanted to free up our cable plant to allow us to offer more IP connected services in the future to our guests without having to tear up walls and engage in major construction," said Heckaman. "For the hotels, the Ruckus Wi-Fi wall switch has turned out to be an ideal solution for both our wired and wireless needs."