Why is my wifi so bad? Why do my guests complain about my wifi? If your Wi-Fi is pants, a bit flaky, or just plain s**t there are 8 key things to consider when answering ‘how do I fix my wifi?’. Hotel Wi-Fi can be a complex beast, or it can be simple depending on your goals. If you’ve got to the stage you are reading this, I am going to guess you’re fed up with complaints, negative reviews, and giving partial or even full refunds because of Wi-Fi issues. You and your team are awesome, the Wi-Fi shouldn’t be letting the side down.
One of the first things to check when your guest complains about your Wi-Fi. Have you got a signal in all the areas you need to? Once upon a time, it was acceptable to say “we have free WiFi” and for that to mean in the bar, in the restaurant, in the lobby etc. Times have changed, most guests now expect full coverage EVERYWHERE; in their rooms and even in the en-suites (hopefully not the sauna but still… you know your guests best, worth a consideration??)
You can check this with your mobile phone, see where the signal is weakest. Most phones have a ‘4 bar’ signal meter for Wi-Fi. As a general rule, if you’re dropping to 2 bars that’s not good enough, that’s when phones are going to start looking for something else to connect to as well as dropping off.
The wifi works fine for me, why do I get complaints about my guest wifi? Well, it could be a bandwidth issue – what does this word actually mean I hear you cry. Think of it like a hose pipe, there is only so much water you can put down a standard hose pipe, at a certain point you’re going to need a bigger hose. If you’re putting out your slightly out-of-control BBQ in the back garden, chances are your garden hose will do the job however if the shed goes up you’re going to need something bigger to put it out.
The same is true for your network’s bandwidth. Let’s say you’ve got one guest streaming Netflix and one on Disney+, a basic line (maybe 10Mbps) will cope in HD without a problem. That said 50-100 people all streaming at the same time, it’s just not going to work. So no matter how good your coverage is without a big fat pipe coming in you’ve just got a literal bottleneck.
Other STUFF on your network
Similar to bandwidth we’ve got to think about all the other STUFF on our networks these days. Not that long ago when we thought of capacity on a guest network it was calculated on 1 maybe 2 devices per guest now that number is more like 3-5. That’s not taking into account YOUR devices, CCTV cameras (bandwidth hungry) Card Machines, Tablets, Laptops, PCs, Printers, Fire Alarms, TVs etc., etc. Knowing how many devices are on your network and how hungry they are can help pinpoint your pain points.
For those of you running resorts with holiday lodges, you’ve got to contend with things like mini CCTV cameras and all sorts of other things too. One of ours had 15 devices in one lodge!
Technology is moving and changing at the fastest rate in history, the militant network engineers will tell you “you can’t design a network without knowing every device that is going to be using it” whilst that has some truth, I would say it is more like “you can design the TEXTBOOK PERFECT network” but what you can do is use the knowledge of what is using the network now, add in a bit of future expansion and take an average of the guest network load and you can get something pretty good… or more importantly something that works perfectly for your guests!
Then you just need to monitor, adapt and keep up!
In a hospitality environment (excluding your lovely coffee shop on the corner on this occasion) one wireless access point or WAP (flying saucer, repeater, hotspot… the physical bit that gives off the wireless signal for your devices to connect to) is not going to cover the whole of your fine hotel.
To explain, each of your wireless access points operate on channels. Similar to when you try to tune in an FM radio manually, 102.8 will give you Pirate FM and 107 will give you Heart. If both Pirate and Heart were to broadcast on 104.5 your radio would get snippets of each station or both at the same time and your ears wouldn’t be able to tell which station was which.
Now swap the radio stations for your WAPs and your ears for your phone and you’ve got the same problem, your phone doesn’t know which one it should be talking to. In this situation, your phone will probably; connect, then disconnect, then reconnect, then disconnect, then… you get my drift.
There are only a certain number of channels that can be used, when you have multiple WAPs in the same space they have to be placed strategically where they can’t ‘hear’ each other so your phone can easily hear which is strongest and jump to the next one as you move through the building.
There are many different aspects to consider when we talk about noise level. But the biggest ones we need to be worried about are below. But why does the noise level matter? Simple, if you’re in a night club how loud do you have to shout to your dance partner? And if you are in a library how quiet do you have to whisper to be heard? The same is true for Wi-Fi, instead of audible noise it is radio frequency noise, if the noise level is low, you need less power to transmit over distances, if the noise level is high you need more power.
- Neighboring Properties – Naughty Wi-Fi installers will turn their WAPs up to FULL POWER and say “look how far away I can be and still connect” whilst that is ‘impressive’ it is generally not necessary and causes you more issues for their customer and you. Your Wi-Fi now has to shout over the top of their Wi-Fi to be heard!
- The devices on your network – the position of devices connected to the Wi-Fi is also a contributing factor
- Other wireless signals – they can come from all manner of devices, Bluetooth and Radar will affect your Wi-Fi. But one that you fine hoteliers will have to fight against, is the mobile hotspot. Not everyone will want to use your amazing, free, super fast guest Wi-Fi they will use their Unlimited Data Package they are paying for.
There is no such thing as ‘unbreakable wifi’ as Kevin Bacon will have you believe, broadband fails, 4G/5G fails, hardware fails, the power fails etc. etc. No one can promise your Wi-Fi will never go down (if they do please show them the door… then call us) but what we can do is build in some reliance and the ability to respond to problems quickly. A quick-fire list of things to think about
- 4G/5G back up if you fixed line fails (extra point here, a wireless signal is unlikely to be as fast as your fixed line is)
- 2 x fixed lines from different providers
- Upgrade to a leased line
- Battery backup for network equipment
- Spares available to swap any failed hardware quickly
- Documentation – its not sexy but oh-my does it save you time (and guest discounts) when you’re in a tight spot
There can be no Wireless without a Wire! What state is your physical cabling in? The “its worked for years, why has it stopped now?” question is coming up more and more often. Simple, you’re asking too much from old cabling that wasn’t installed correctly in the first place. Back to the bandwidth subject, there are many different grades of cabling (almost as many as ‘hacks’ or ‘dodgy’ ways to mash them together too) older grades cannot carry your modern network traffic at our modern speeds. Each bodged connection on the way is just an additional bottle neck jamming up your network.
Unfortunately, in my experience, hospitality is one of the worst-catered for industry where cabling is concerned. Start with the links between network nodes/junctions, then the links out to the wired devices and WAPs.
You there, running your luxury holiday resort, WHEN (yeah WHEN not if) one of your cables fails does it take out half the resort? Just a handful of lodges? Do you know where it comes from and where it goes back too?
How do I fix my wifi?
If this sounds like a lot of work to you, don’t stress, Book a Zoom call with me. Let’s talk through your problems, I am sure we can help. Book A Call now, and choose a time that works for you.