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Radisson goes wireless

Radisson SAS Hotels & Resorts, which operates a number of properties throughout the region, is planning to roll out high-speed wireless internet access to its hotels in the Middle East.

Radisson SAS Hotels & Resorts is planning to roll out high-speed wireless internet access to its hotels in the Middle East. Although which properties will benefit from the Cisco based solution has yet to be confirmed, the Diplomat Radisson SAS Hotel in Bahrain is slated to implement the solution in the first quarter of 2003.

“The other eight regional hotels are [also] showing interest… and the two imminent openings in Saudi Arabia are likely candidates, as they will both be aimed at business guests,” says Finn Schulz, vice president of information technology for Radisson SAS Hotels & Resorts.

The solution, which will be implemented by Netpoint A/S or its local partners, will allow guests to access the internet from hotel lobbies or other public areas. “Wireless high-speed internet access enables guests to browse the internet from their own laptop, or to download e-mails, from anywhere in the hotel public areas without being restricted by a cable connection,” comments explains Marcus Bernhardt, senior vice president & COO of Radisson SAS Hotels & Resorts.

The introduction of wireless access to its hotels builds on Radisson SAS Hotels & Resorts’ existing EasyConnect initiative, which has thus far provided guests with high speed web access from rooms and hotel business centres. “What guests want is easy and reliable access to the internet for mail access and other communication with their home systems… We believe it is a differentiator in the market and that is why we are rolling out wireless access,” says Schulz.

To ensure that the provision of wireless access doesn’t harm the integrity of each hotel’s systems, the guest wireless local area networks (WLANs) will be separate from each property’s own network. At the same time, users will be responsible for securing their own machines.

“The wireless segment is a so-called ‘hostile segment’ and it is a direct connection to the open internet. As such, users will be responsible for their own security through the use of personal firewall’s and/or virtual private network (VPN) connections over the internet,” explains Schulz. “However, this shouldn’t be a problem as most mobile computing users have their own security set-ups, and any corporate hardware normally utilises security software,” he adds.

Although high speed wireless internet access is being rolled out primarily as a customer service, Schulz believes that Radisson SAS Hotels & Resorts will eventually see a return on its investment.

“By offering something that customers are increasingly demanding and expecting, we hope to increase market share by offering the best technology… We are not looking at this as a direct profit enhancer, but a market share booster and differentiator in general, we will see increased usage and, therefore, direct revenues coming in,” he says.

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