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Betting on Wi-Fi: A Series on the Hospitality Gaming space

Guest Blogger

The hospitality gaming space is one in which customer experience is paramount and the wireless network must support this experience. This series will explore some of the common mistakes made and offer tips for improving the experience. The casino hotel environment is composed of two primary components—the podium and the tower(s). The podium consists of the casino, retail, restaurant, entertainment, and convention space while the towers are the guest rooms. Much like any other wireless network, use cases are important and complicated areas like the podium should be broken down further, while the tower should be as homogenous as possible to ensure a consistent guest experience across the rooms. Throughout all spaces device density, device type, use cases, channel planning, SSID planning, etc. should be carefully considered.

 

The Podium

Podiums are always a challenge due to the diverse needs. Breaking this down into parts—casino, retail, conference center, etc. helps tremendously. Each should be designed according to its layout with use cases in mind.  Care should be taken to coordinate channel selections with vendors who require their own wireless network. Ideally these should be placed on a secure VLAN tied to an 802.1x-based SSID. ClearPass is a huge asset in reducing the number of SSIDs in a location such as this. Planning for density on the gaming floor, especially support for Wi-Fi connected gaming systems such as the card tables, is key. These devices sit low and can be crowded on a busy Friday or Saturday night. Ensuring they can get back to an access point may mean APs mounted under tables, under a raised floor, or with line of sight through the pit to a nearby access point. As casinos integrate additional devices, such as robots, this density requirement becomes even more important.

 

The Towers

The hospitality tower(s) should have a consistent experience throughout, ensuring that there are no “good rooms” or “bad rooms” from a wireless perspective. Hallways and back of house areas should not be overlooked as many hotels are providing technology for their housekeeping teams to be more efficient. In general, these rooms have lower densities, however the users expect high quality experiences in their rooms.  With the trend to charge a “resort fee” often exceeding $25 or more, it is essential that these networks just work. I advocate standardization of access points (e.g. all AP-305s) and tend to use lower end access points for this space due to the cost of each one. The type of access point varies between a traditional ceiling mounted AP or a “hospitality AP” that is meant to wall mount, typically determined by the state of the network installation—wall mount APs are typically part of a refresh while ceiling mount APs are typically done on greenfield installs. AP density should be such that lower data rates can safely be pruned and that the cell sizes are small, but adequately reach into the corners of each room and the main hallway.

 

I am interested in what the Airheads community has seen in their travels—the good, the bad, and the ugly. 

 

Series Links:

Part 1: Betting on Wi-Fi

Part 2: Guest Experience

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