Reliable, free Wi-Fi is basic customer service these days. Many people depend heavily on the internet to connect with friends, get directions,
Students experiencing the wifi network in a coffee shop joyfully
and compare product information. As a result, customers expect rural businesses to have Wi-Fi and, if they don’t, they’re typically disappointed.
It’s particularly important, in the hospitality industry, to keep pace with customer’s evolving expectations about technology. In fact, 63% of hoteliers say this was their biggest challenge in 2016. These days, rural hotels must accommodate not just people, but people’s technology as well.
If, like many rural businesses, you’re too far from the local hub to qualify for a cable or DSL connection, consider one of these alternative connections:
Mobile broadband – the internet you get with your Verizon, AT&T, or Sprint cellular data plan – is easy and inexpensive to install as home Wi-Fi, straightforward to use, and provides the fastest potential alternative internet connection as measured by user experience.
Millenial woman taking selfies and posting to social medial
Downlink: 5-12 Mbps (LTE), 1-4 Mbps (3G)
Uplink: 2-5 Mbps (LTE), 1 Mbps (3G)
Latency: 75-100 ms
Because subscribers purchase mobile broadband by gigabyte of data, you’ll be paying directly for each customer who accesses your Wi-Fi network. Cost, then, is unpredictable; you could end up paying through the nose in overcharges if a few customers use a lot of data.
Satellite internet – the internet that providers like HughesNet™, Dishnet™ and Excede™ offer – are the most widely available connection in rural areas. You can install satellite anywhere with a clear view of the part of the sky your provider’s satellites orbit.
Downlink: 5-15 Mbps
Uplink: 1-2 Mbps
Latency: 500-1500 ms
Because satellite providers throttle heavy use, you won’t have to worry about regulating customers who are heavy users. Unfortunately, the user experience of satellite is slow due to complicated bandwidth restrictions and high latency. Satellite is not the best service to provide Wifi.
T-1 Internet, if you have the capital to invest in it, is the most reliable alternative for a high volume of users. A T1 connection splits
A T-1 infrastructure with cables and routers
into 24 channels, each of which maintains identical downlink and uplink speeds.
Downlink: 1.544 Mbps
Uplink: 1.544 Mbps
Latency: 3-5 ms
Cost: $200 and $1200/month
Quality hardware is key to building a reliable Wi-Fi network. Choose a wireless router that transmits across the most recent Wi-Fi technology specification, 802.11ac Gigabit Wi-Fi, for the highest capacity network.
Router and Access Points that provide wifi connectivity anywhere
Good internet is rare in rural areas, but this is a business opportunity, not a challenge. If, as a rural business, you can offer customers a reliable connection where they can’t get it on their own (i.e. where the cellular network is weak), you will win yourself loyal customers.
Use a splash page – a simple homepage that welcomes customers to your network – to build loyalty by branding your Wi-Fi connection.
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