Networking A Hotel - Ideas Please

I have been tasked to install BROADBAND into 24 rooms of a hotel plus a conference room.

There are 12 rooms on ground floor and 12 rooms on floor 1
The conference room is on ground floor between the 12 rooms.

There is a office room behind reception on ground floor approx 200meters away from the 1st
room, this can be the location for any HARDWARE, SERVERS ETC..

Broadband I have access to is ADSL 512k, 1MB or 2MB

I would like your opinions on the best way to set this up I am technicaly minded and capable but would very much welcome opinions and best ideas for completing this project.

My Client would also like to BILL each room for the amount of time "ONLINE" - if you are aware of anyway to monitor this?

Clients will be accessing the network with THEIR OWN LAPTOPS.

Security precautions and considerations would also be appreciated!

Many Thanks
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A good solution is to use several WAPs (Wireless Access Points) mastered off of a hardwired LAN running the length of the hallway. The location of the access points will depend on the construction techniques. Also, get access points with connections suitable for better antennas, they make a huge difference in signal quality.

As for billing, most hotels that I encounter use a system based upon a central server which enables/disables access to the specified address for the paid for period of time. In effect, the first attempt to use HTTP automatically forces you to the billing server for registration/billing, it then enables your internal IP address for network access. The billing system DOES NOT appear to have a connection to the DHCP server (other than possibly coordinating the longevity of the IP address lease).

On another front, this is one of the cases where you do not generally want to use WEP on the wireless, it will be a constant support headache. However, you should warn guests that the network is not encrypted.

I hope that the above is helpful. You may also want to check out some of my IEEE speeches at, I routinely speak on issues concerning wireless deployment.

On the bandwidth side, it depends upon economics, but my general rule is to start with the lower bandwidth link, and monitor usage, upgrading as necessary. That position does, however, depend upon economics and costs of the various lines.

I hope that I have been helpful.

- Bob (aka RLGSC)

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Let better engage the good network administrator. He will be responsible for creating/managing/securing/administering your internet connection/local network day by day. It's more flexible option than self-made network. And also more secure.

For my two cents -

1) don't go wireless.  It is insecure, and you will be easily screwed out of billing, not to mention a technically minded patron will easily steal the use of another room's/account's broadband time.

2) DO use a professional network administrator's services to setup and occasionally maintain such a network.  per-time billing is very complicated in it's setup, but easy to use if set up properly.  You would want intermittent security audits to ensure nobody is exploiting your system.

3) 512k is not nearly enough bandwidth to share among 24 rooms and actually bill people for time.  Consider that a 512k line is less than ten times faster than a 56k modem in theory (in actual use, it's about 10 times faster).  Now split that among 10-12 people, which I imagine would be the absolute maximum simultaneous usage under normal circumstances, and you are now charging your clientele by the hour for something that works slower than if they dialed out to their AOL account over the phone.  Not good business.  Also consider that at peak times like holidays, you may have no vacancy, and if you're in any type of area that you're likely to have families, especially with tweeen-age children, you could reasonably have most rooms using it at the same time so the brats are distracted long enough for mom and dad to enjoy themselves.

4) Perhaps an even more important consideration in the bandwidth question is the conference room.  What type of business activities have you got going on there?  IF you have any type of conventions etc, where someone is likely to be paying you a lot of money, internet aside, you don't want them standing there in your conference room waiting for a short presentation to load from their home offices, all the while wondering why they chose your location.  

5) A solution to your bandwidth problem, if it is available in your area, may be a bandwidth on demand account.  This is similar to Sprint's new cell phone plans you see advertised constantly if you live in the US.  With a bandwidth on demand account, you pay a regular monthly rate for say, 1Mb account.  At Christmas time, when the high school marching band is staying at your place on their local christmas tour, and all 24 rooms want to use the internet at once, the phone company detects the demand exceeding the supply and throttles your connection up to 2-3-4Mb or whatever you agree upon.  For bandwidth exceeding 1Mb, you would pay an overage fee usually per megabyte of information downloaded (as opposed to the maximum speed you hit, they don't really care about that).  The con about bandwidth on demand is that it requires a hard-wired WAN type connection, not the normal run-of-the-mill ISP service; although in most cases, resale of run-of-the-mill service in the manner you describe is illegal anyway.

6) As far as billing goes, hire a professional, but here are two things I suggest you look in to.  Hit a site like and use search keywords like "Internet Cafe Software."  There are several turnkey solutions for billing and allocating bandwidth by the hour, megabyte etc, that are geared toward people who are not complete computer illiterates, but not network administrators either.  The second thing is to look at some of the routers out there which are created for internet cafes.  I know Cisco specifically, as well as a few other companies, have built routers and/or router features specifically geared toward the operation of such  a network.  These routers implement proprietary 'protocols' for tracking packet throughput by MAC address and can give you reports of exactly which card used what and when, as well as including the ability to activate access for MAC addresses for a specified length of time etc.  With a solution like that, no special software is required, and no other special hardware is required.  You can run a plain-Jane switched network with ports in every room.  A client can simply plug his computer in to the jack, call the front desk with a MAC address, request a number of hours, and a hastily trained employee can activate the card in the system. Unfortunately, I can't remember the exact terminology they use for the technology and as such can't find you a good link.  Perhaps another poster will see this and set you in the right direction on that.  There are also some simple-to-use software router solutions that do the same thing, but require more setup and regular maintenance (cheaper initial cost though usually).


8) Hire someone you trust and CHECK REFERENCES.  There are way too many people with vans and magnetic signs calling themselves "computer guy" these days.  Also, be mindful that this job is out of the scope of a computer guy.  You need an experienced network consultant/administrator/engineer.  There are design, implementation, efficiency, billing and security issues at hand here simultaneously.  You are unlikely to research this thoroughly on your own through posts like this and whatnot.  Pay someone who knows to avoid screwing your customers, getting bilked, and down-time.

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>200meters away from the 1st room
This is too far for standard Ethernet, but there is a solution called Long Range Ethernet
All you need is one switch in your closet, and a little CPE device in each room, plus a firewall between the switch and the broadband.
Adding some wireless is easy enough to support some clients and the conference room. Good security  and planning for your wireless is essential, but so is providing the service.
For billing, you can use something like the D-Link gateway..someone's already done the heavy work for you

Although I agree that you should always consult a professional, providing service to 24 rooms and a couple of conference rooms should not spiral the costs out of control. What is your expected occupancy rate? Out of that overall occupancy rate, how many will be using the Internet at the same time? 5? 10? How much do you want to spend to provide free internet access (I assume it will be free for the boarders)..

Great info only suggestion might be:

I might look at a proxy server for billable time.  ISA 2004 (for the Microsoft minded) or Linux/Squid for the open source minded

I 100% agree you need a pro for design/installation.  It sounds like a great idea; however, if you short change yourself on design/implementation and anger 25% of your customers then you will be looking for a job.
MoncapitaanAuthor Commented:
Thanks everyone for your input.

I will keep the question open for a little while longer to allow more experts the oportunity to comment.

The ideas put forward this far have been much appreciated.

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