Phoenicia deploys wireless network

As the momentum towards wireless hotspots and connectivity continues seemingly unabated in the region, the InterContinental Phoenicia hotel in Beirut has implemented Wi-Fi technology to provide guests with internet access throughout its property.

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By  Zoe Moleshead Published  August 31, 2003

InterContinental Phoenicia|~||~||~|As the momentum towards wireless hotspots and connectivity continues seemingly unabated in the region, the InterContinental Phoenicia hotel in Beirut has implemented Wi-Fi technology to provide guests with internet access throughout its property. Additionally, the hotel has installed a wired local area network (LAN) in its Phoenician and Roman Towers.

Both the wired and wireless networking infrastructure has been provided by 3Com, with the latter being implemented in public areas such as meeting and conference rooms and the recently completed Residence Suites.

“This project is three in one. We wanted to implement the Wi-Fi [hotspots] in the public areas — this was one project. The other project was the LAN connectivity in our Phoenician Tower and Roman Tower, and the third was Wi-Fi for the Residence Suites,” says Hassan Hibri, systems manager, InterContinental Phoenicia.

“We wanted to be one of the pioneers in installing Wi-Fi in the remote area… We are installing it [wireless connectivity] in the conference rooms, meeting areas and all the restaurants. Additionally, we are implementing wireless in the 34 Residence Suites and offering laptop connectivity in our rooms,” he explains.

Phoenicia’s goal to be a pioneer of wireless connectivity has certainly proved true within the InterContinental group, with the Beirut property becoming the first to deploy such technology. The solution has seen a total of 55 3Com Wireless LAN Access Point 8000s deployed around the property, 20 throughout the public areas and 35 in the Residence Suites. Additionally, 3Com’s SuperStack 3 switch 4200 products have been implemented to form the wired LAN.

Consequently, the networking infrastructure enables the hotel to provide guests with flexible, secure internet access. “How often have you seen people sitting with a laptop in a coffee shop?” asks Hibri. “In the past, such people had to carry all their disks and documents with them because they couldn’t easily connect to the internet. But now, whether you’re a businessman meeting with colleagues in the lobby, or a tourist searching for information about which attractions to visit, you’ll always be connected at the Phoenicia,” he continues.

User concerns and flexibility are also extended to the software layer of the wireless solution. The Phoenicia has installed a billing and accounting platform from Aptilo, which provides users with a number of different payment options for accessing the internet.

“We are using a solution by Aptilo where our guests can access the internet through various ways: they can use scratch cards, charge it to their room, they can use their credit card or they can use SMS over the network. They can provide their mobile number and then they will get an SMS that gives them the code so they can access the internet and the charges will go to their mobile invoice,” explains Hibri.

Guests or visitors require a username and password to access the internet and these details are provided following payment. “If they have already registered then they don’t have to worry about registering [again,] they just enter their username and password. Otherwise they put in the scratch card ID number, their credit card number or charge it to their room,” says Hibri.

While the username and password provide a certain level of security for users, the 3Com access points also incorporate built in encryption and authentication protocols to further strengthen security of the wireless network.

At the management level, security is also enhanced through 3Com’s Network Supervisor platform, which is being used by the hotel to manage both the wired and wireless networks. “The hardware is managed by a software [Network Supervisor] provided by 3Com, which is very secure. People cannot get into the management platform unless they have the right ID, so security for the network is strong,” explains Hibri.||**||

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