When it comes to maintaining a worldwide reputation for luxury, the notion of providing for guests must evolve as times change. At the Broadmoor
resort in Colorado Springs, Colo., the meaning of service has come to include seamless wireless voice and data. When hotel guests weren’t satisfied with their service on AT&T phones, AT&T
and TE Connectivity
stepped up and delivered a system that provides uniform services throughout the 3000-acre property.
A winner of the Forbes Travel Guide five-star award for a record 50 consecutive years, the Broadmoor welcomes guests with 744 rooms, 185,000 square feet of meeting space, three championship golf courses, a tennis center, and a world-class day spa. But for today’s travelers, part of a positive experience includes having a cellular phone or laptop data card that works wherever the user happens to be.
“With the influx of iPhones and iPads, the guest is a little more technical than in the old days,” says Kevin Meyer, telecommunications manager at the Broadmoor. “There are a lot more business-oriented travelers with groups and conventions, and a lot of guests use their laptops and cell phones in their rooms.” In fact, says Meyer, the hotel phones in guest rooms are now little more than intercom systems for contacting services within the hotel – guests use their own cell phones to make outside calls and data access for area information.
Although all of the area’s major mobile providers – AT&T, Sprint, T-
Mobile, and Verizon – provide service at the Broadmoor by cell towers on the property, service for AT&T customers was still spotty in some indoor areas.
“The first indication we had was in late 2009 when AT&T’s CEO couldn’t get service in one of the meeting rooms,” says Meyer. Meyer’s team met with AT&T engineers the following week and decided to implement a distributed antenna system, or DAS. Unlike a cell tower, a DAS distributes cellular signals through a series of ceiling-mounted remote antennas installed wherever service is needed. This way, meeting rooms and other interior areas will have strong signals even if reception from the outdoor cell site is poor.
Choosing the right DAS
AT&T engineers selected the InterReach Fusion DAS from TE Connectivity. This particular solution had several advantages:
- It distributes a uniformly strong signal from every antenna no matter how far each antenna is from the original signal source.
- It uses thin coaxial cabling to connect antennas with electronic hubs, making it easier to install unobtrusively in the historic resort.
- It supports more than one set of carrier frequencies, so if another carrier wants to use the system in the future this can be done with minimal disruption.
Prior to the deployment, engineers did a site survey of the property to determine exactly which areas needed remote antennas. The deployment began in late 2009 and took a little less than three months to accomplish.
“The resort was founded in 1918, and there are a lot of crevices and tunnels where we run wiring,” says Meyer. “It took a while to plan the DAS installation so as not to disturb the ceilings or artwork in the buildings.” In the end, AT&T and TE Connectivity deployed 75 remote antennas in the two main hotel buildings, the golf club, the cottages, spa, shopping area, and the meeting rooms.
To connect the DAS to a signal source, AT&T engineers brought a fiber cable from the existing cell site to the equipment room in the main hotel building, where the main distribution hub for the DAS was installed. To minimize disruption to guests, says Meyer, “We worked around vacancies in the hotel, working in areas where there were few or no guests at a given time.” Much of the work was done in back-of-the-house areas.
Since its deployment over a year ago, the DAS system has provided clear and consistent mobile phone service in all hotel areas. AT&T deployed both 3G and 4G mobile service capabilities through the DAS, so as 4G services become available, guests will have access to them as well.
And with a reliable infrastructure that guarantees strong cell service, the hotel’s IT staff is looking into using cellular phones to improve operations. “With the influx of all the applications in the hospitality business, we’re looking at things like having guests check-in with iPhones, or scheduling housekeeping via iPhone,” says Meyer.
Thanks to its new DAS, the Broadmoor has expanded the definition of luxury to include strong and consistent mobile services for its guests, and has laid the foundation for enhanced hotel productivity in the future.
Can You Hear Me Now? Nope.