London's 150-year-old Charing Cross Hotel will get the fastest hotel wi-fi in Europe next month, according to the CTO of the hotel group that manages it.
Speaking at the CIO Summit, Chris Hewertson, CTO of GLH Hotels, said: “We’ve just rolled out an 802.11ac network at Charing Cross. We think that’s probably the fastest hotel wi-fi in Europe and probably one of the fastest wi-fi networks in the country full stop and we’ve still got to tune that yet. We’ll probably get to about 600Mpbs upload and 700Mbps download in the whole hotel."
“You can just walk in, you don’t have to register, and you’ll get it," he added, which prompted a CIO Summit attendee to warn that his son will be in there before long downloading iOS 8 for his iPhone.
By way of comparison, the majority of hotels in the UK and Europe offer upload/download speeds of less than 100Mbps.
GLH Hotels manages 36 hotels across the UK, including several other luxury hotels in London like The Grosvenor in Victoria and The Cumberland by Marble Arch.
The group is "on a mission to “absolutely shatter the view of hotel wi-fi", according to Hewertson.
Hewertson said free high-speed wi-fi is crucial in today’s hotel industry as guests will often take to hotel review sites such as Tripadvisor and post negative feedback if they’re unhappy with the connectivity in any given hotel.
The CTO said many business guests now put free wi-fi on a par with a good night's sleep.
“Most hotels charge or there’s a lengthy registration process,” he said. “We spent about 12 months upgrading our entire network, putting gigabit backhauls in and the latest access points. We’re now in a position where we’ve increased our usage of wi-fi across the board.”
"We were finding that people weren’t using our wi-fi. They were coming into our hotels where we’d made a huge investment but we were still charging them for it because wi-fi is a revenue stream for hotels in a way that electricity used to be about 120 years ago.
"We introduced free wi-fi across our London estate in December 2012. It was an amazing success and we could then convince the hotel owners of the hotels we manage to also invest in free wi-fi. This is one of the challenges in the hotel industry. Most hotel chains don’t own their hotels. We manage them on behalf of others so there’s a constant dialogue and negotiation with hotel owners to implement new technology…you can’t just put it in because they actually pay for it."
The comments were made this week at The Langham Hotel, which provides visitors a 10Mbps download speed and a 5Mbps upload speed, according to a speed test carried out on the day by Hewertson.