février 23, 2022
février 23, 2022
After several years in the business environment particularly in telecommunications, it appeared to me and some colleagues in the industry a lack of specific articles about telecommunication solutions for businesses. This article aims to help to identify nowadays connectivity challenges and describe the means to address them. These propositions could ensure organizations a smooth adaptation to the exponential evolution of internet usage in society. To be more precise in our solutions, we will discuss the case of hotel industry connectivity issues, the importance to solve them for its customers, and the available technologies to address them.
Telecommunications are lubricants of human activities. They act as transverse levers of a universal development brought at reach by its several innovations. They link all regions of the world from urban zones to the most postponed ones, bringing to populations facilities which link them to services and technologies improving their daily life. These technologies and services are spread partly by the ubiquity of mobile phones – USSD, SMS, voice services- and the Internet in another hand.
« The building of new great electronic motorways will become an even more appealing firm an electronic telecommunications network working with big capacities of transmission, as well as with continental satellites, guides of waves, coaxial cables put together, and later also via fibre optics with laser beam will be tremendous on environmental and energy plan. And eventually, telecommunications will not be more than an ersatz to make work gears. It will become our ski jump for new and surprising human firms.»
We are in the concrete expression of this prediction  from 1974 of the artist-researcher Nam June Paik, for Foundation Rockefeller in pursuit of a futuristic vision of telecommunications and broadcasting today.
Internet. A technology which « as air, once draws attention only absent », as so well described it as one of the biggest computer scientists in our time; Nicolas Negropone. However, it plays a primordial role in our societies by popularizing knowledge and equality of access to information, by bringing knowledge in apprenants, by returning available rare competences, by constructing bridges between organizations and markets, by putting in contact engineers and developers, by making payments simple and accessible, by giving a worldwide stand for products and local services and by making more dynamic the activity of some industries of which it becomes the heart of activity. The hotel sector if it doesn’t yet is on the way to figure among these several transformed industries.
HOTELS HAVE SPECIFIC NEEDS OF CONNECTIVITY
Until recently, the hotel industry was a sector where internet service appeared as an option amid additional services. Today, just like all other affected industries by numerical revolution, the Internet became a basic service. Clients need to be connected « to feel at home », as promised by any hotel:
« Give to all our guests a flawless reception and a service in a familiar, convivial and nice climate to make their stay remarkable»
« Reception », « Service », « Flawless « , « convivial », « Familiar », « Nice »; the words which return most when going around the thumb-indexes mission of the hotelkeepers’ websites. They all show a clear research of service quality and comfort. Yet to arrive at this level of requirement, hotels need to adapt their culture to the evolution of practices and take into account technologies that revolutionize the daily of their guests.
Besides reception, furniture, decoration, gastronomy, and comfort, the Internet became a criterion mattering from the notation of service quality, a crucial element for the client in its choice of place of stay. Especially since the Internet becomes more and more primordial in everyday life as recalls it the evolution of our relationship with the Internet over more than 20 years.
Maslow’s pyramid categorizes in a downward way according to the importance of an element. With the increase of innovations in information technologies, the democratisation of personal computers and of electronic mail services, the birth of the WEB 2.0 with notably the advent of social networks, multiplication of trade and remittances platforms; Internet passed over the years from the status of the will of accomplishment, similar to the ultimate luxury, to the status of vital and fundamental necessity. Becoming so a physiological need in the same category of importance as water and food.
Evolution of internet importance through time in Maslow hierarchies needs pyramid
In Senegal, this evolution of the Internet’s importance in daily life is translated by the second position of Wifi within the most requested services in hotels, in the same rank as air-conditioning.
Ranking of the most asked services by hotel customers according to the Jumia Travel report
At the same time, international comities of the hotel industry, aware of the usage and the evolution of the habits within society, adapted their facilities to instaure some connectivity standards among the criteria of excellence of their establishments. Thereby, according to the catalogue HotelStar, the criterion of internet connectivity appears from two and three stars categorization. These criteria concern access to the Internet in public zones of the hotel (reception, foyers, living rooms, restaurants, etc.) for 2 stars hotels (**). Added to public zones, there is Internet access in rooms for 3 stars hotels (***). According to the figures of JumiaTravel, it’s interesting to underline that among 1.600.000 tourists received in Senegal during 2016, 71 % stayed in hotels 2 & 3 stars hotels.
HOTELS AND HIGH-SPEED CONNECTIVITY IN SENEGAL
Facing a constant growth of requests and to resorb the weakness of the debit offered by an ADSL line, hotel managers have found the solution consisting of aggregating several of them.
ADSL is transmission technology endowed with brass support born at the end of the nineties. It offers a debit up to 12 theoretical MBPS. This solution is suitable for establishments with weak capacity as inns or the small hotels not suffering from demanding customers and not competing for certifications or stars.
It is quite different for hotels of the Superior category representing the « nec plus ultra » in all categories according to criteria of -the reference guide in the domain- catalog Hotel Star Union. Local or franchised, establishments of that category receive important guests influx and can count 1000 beds and more.
For these establishments, the aggregation of several lines ADSL, just as much as other support of fixed access offered by the historical operators (FlyBox 3G, WIMAX) or new ISP (4G LTE, VSAT, etc.), are not enough. Indeed, the available debit on these lines remains shared with other users linked to the same base station. Which guarantees the availability of the subscribed debit in about only 25 % of the time. It does not mean that connection is available only a quarter of the time. It is rather about the signed debit, i.e. when you subscribe to a line for a debit of 10 Mbps, this rate represents the time when you will have 10 MBPS in concrete terms during your sessions or your subscription. The rest of the time, it leaves a correct bandwidth for applications with low data consumption like YouTube or WhatsApp.
For home usage, this rate is sufficient because the use of the bandwidth and the medium number of inhabitants in Senegal by home estimated at 8 are easily covered when the line is stable.
But the shared line show it limits when the simultaneous use of lines in a sector attain peaks. These peaks correspond to the periods when users, at home, are connected at the same time to the Internet: at the end of the day and at the weekend. At these precise moments, the lines are saturated and the quality of connection suffers.
Meanwhile clients of hotels that share the same network resources, therefore the same inconveniences as households, see their streaming on NetFlix, their online gaming, or their FaceTime conversation degrading.
To offer a blameless internet connection, hotels are interconnected by a link which is specific for them, a tapestry work where only their data and those of their clients pass in transit, a conduit where the capacity is stable and is guaranteed since not blocked: this interconnection is called the leased line or dedicated internet access.
Locally used by banks, multinationals, embassies, and NGOs, it is about the allocation of a part of the facilities of an ISP to interconnect a specific site by a wire (fiber optics) or radio (microwave) support. This segregation of resource grants to the client a premium experience of the internet which ensures a service availability beyond 99 % of the time.
Besides these performances, the leased line guarantees solid security of the client’s data transit as well as a plethora of additional services like fixation of public IP addresses, MPLS, IPLC, POP installation, VPN services, collocation, etc.
The computer representatives and D.S.I. of firms for which data are sensitive and/or important as for hotels, leased line solution is ideal but it has a cost.
Indeed, the leased line requires first important expenses of installations linked to equipment and sometimes to civil engineering, but also it requires the periodical recurring charges linked to the offered capacity.
Expenses of installation (called in jargon NRC for Non-Recurring Charges) are relatively accessible when the last mile is accomplished on a supported radio, on a wild or under the licensed band, it is a question of setting up a point to point link which links up the client to the operator’s optical fiber network (Backbone) by the closest point. The installation of this radio link is relatively quick but the line quality is subject to the meteorological vagaries which can degrade it. In the comparing of a link in fiber optics which is insensible to the weather forecast. However, the fiber optics has the disadvantage to concede costs important for the installation since requiring air civil engineering or (more commonly) underground.
Descriptive Diagram of the last mile support technology (author)
The satellite is another technology support for L.L. service with delays of bringing into service is relatively short because not requiring civil engineering. However, the technical characteristics of the link, as the high response time (RTT) because of the distance between aerials receiving and the satellite itself, make of VSAT a not much-recommended solution because preventing the client of practically all applications requiring instantaneous transmission of data in duplex. One of the other satellite limits consists of a limited ascending debit.
Except for expenses for installation, the other expensive element of a specialized line is the monthly charge (or MRC for Monthly Recurring Charges). It depends on the debit signed and made support to the client the equivalent of the total number of line which the allocated debit would have been able to allow to share. The number of users sharing the same debit on a sector is an indicator of the performance of support of communication and is called contention ration. The contention ratio depends on technology and on the equipment used in the facilities of ISP, for some support, this ratio turns around 1/15 and turns out to be very weak. For the fiber, he can attain 1/100; i.e. that 100 persons can be connected at the same time on the same debit without the user notice slowness on his connection.
To better illustrate the shared network principle for non-initiated or for sales and marketing staffs in training, they are going to get that by the analogy of a watering-can from which numerous head are connected in a tap; every headwaters a pot of flower with a constant speed that she draws from the tap pressure. So, at the end of every head of the watering-can, an obstructor is inserted to prevent pressure or speed to exceed a certain ceiling, in telecommunications it will be about the choice of plan or subscribed debit: 2 MBPS, 8 MBPS, 10 MBPS, etc. As for the watering-can whose owner will pay for the tap installation, the conduit of watering-can, accessories, water, and the gardener between others, the business model of the internet service provider is to make the clients covered by a base station support in a uniform way the direct costs related to investments in-network facilities, operational expenses and the capacity besides the commercial margin. In Senegal, the arrival of 3 new licensed ISP caused constant prices cut on the residential shared lines throughout 2018. At the moment this article is written, these prices declined around 8000 FCFA, where it cost 12 000 FCFA and more a year ago. In another article will be more detailed on the impact of new licenses attribution of in the telecommunications sector in Senegal.
For leased line service, if we take back the same analogy of the watering-can, the service corresponds to a classical watering-can with a single head which waters a single pot of flower. The Internet provider will invoice the known costs recalled to the sole client, which fills the price of MBPS. For a long time remained unchanged, these prices fell from 250 to 300 thousand FCFA in less than one year to turn around 150 thousand FCFA at the end of 2018. The decline of the price is also due to the new actors and their aggressive politics on the BtoB segment.
Let us return to our hotel client. Once the persuaded hotel that he needs a dedicated internet service, it is therefore necessary to assess his need in debit. It is the capacity ceiling in a volume of data (in thousand bits or in thousand bytes) which its line will transport per second, measured in megabit a second (Mbps) or Megabyte a second (Mb / S) according to standards.
To assess the need in terms of debit, it is necessary to determine the peak of frequentation of the establishment and allocate ideally an average of 512 Kbps for each user. Some establishments like the Infinite Business Lounge at Blaise Diagne International Airport of Dakar for example with its 3 premium living rooms respect these proportions by taking a 40 MBPS line. Radisson Blu Dakar which counts 240 rooms, suites, and flats is another good example with a line of 100 MBPS capacity.
However, support technology, dedicated service, and given debit are not enough to guarantee a good quality of connection to hotels. A fourth parameter is to hold in count: the cover.
There are two means to link equipment by internet via a modem; by wire link (RJ45 commonly) or by Wifi. For the RJ45 wire link, the cover corresponds to the length from 0 to 50 meters of cable. Beyond 50 meters, the weakening of the signal caused by the length of the cable becomes too important for the proper transmission of data.
For a wireless connection, the cover ray depends on the wifi modem power. Modems installed by default by the operators are for most the means of range and cover rays near 25-30 meters for a simultaneous capacity of connection of 16 to 32 devices. These parameters show their limits when supposed covered zone is broad with more than a hundred of connected devices; features both found in hotels.
Often the hotelkeepers and other uniting establishments one of these features call third parts integrators for the installation of wireless professional accesses able to cover hundreds of meters squares for simultaneous capacities in the connection going above 1200 devices.
Some new ISP includes these services into the model business to win in market shares and to speed the development up. In that sense, ISPs should improve their commercial approach by adapting for instance their subscription contracts to the seasonality of hotels to entice 3-4 stars hotels segment which represents 68 % of reservations in Senegal.
Today, the hotels which adopt the norms of the big hotel chains invest in installations of professional Internet solutions to support this famous communications network which Claude Levis Strauss considered the symbol of our culture.
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