Performing a walkthough of an older hotel near us, we found this 1980’s structure run with 4 conductor telephone lines, heavily plastered walls, no false ceilings, and no computer room. Unfortunately, no major remodels are scheduled in the near future, and this was well before the business friendly age of ethernet installation. They do have cable television. There are either 2 or 3 floors of rooms, depending on where you are.
They recently installed an overwhelming powerful WiFi system, as guests seek connectivity. The WiFi Folks ran cables for Access Points in the attic, or along ethernet cables in the hallways.
BY FAR most of the hotel guests use their cell phones, but there is the expectation of having a house phone operational in the room, perhaps for the simple reason of the desk attendant ringing the room for the pizza guy standing in the foyer.
I have a few ideas running inside my head, and seek community comment on what might make sense. We are talking about 60 telephones in total for this project, and 4 or 5 trunk lines.
Locate SIP VoIP Wireless phones. Not the models that have a base, and you walk around with, but a desk phone like the Sangoma 300 series that has a RF unit inside and will attach to WiFi. Again, this is not a business office with regular use, so I do not anticipate collisions of traffic, especially if the VoIP provider has hardware to perform some QoS / Management of the telephone traffic.
Attempt to run VoIP on telephone 4 conductor wiring. Advantage: it is a hardware solution. Disadvantage: Will 4 conductor reliably support 10 Base T traffic? I don’t think I can do PoE in this arrangement, so ugly wall wart has to be plugged in somewhere. Has anyone done VoIP in this configuration that can comment?
Install a Cat 5 Infrastructure. Drill Holes. Run Cat 5 in conduit on the outside of the walls. Make it look like a hospital room, or a brick schoolhouse from the 70’s and such. Will have the full features of the phone system on a cabled environment, but could be costly, and frankly, ugly. But it is a hotel room. Who goes to a hotel room, outside of being on a cruise, to sit in the hotel all day and be bothered by wiring?
Install FreePBX with some Analog Dgium cards to re-use all the old phones. NO NO NO NO NO. I think at that point, it would be better to wait for a remodel and then digitize the whole environment.
Option 4 isn’t as bad a choice as you might think. There are lots of “courtesy phone” setups that could work as Hall Phones or even limited access room phones. If you want phones that can actually dial out, you can install “inexpensive to replace when rockstars stay” phones. Also, putting VOIP phones in the room could (depending on the lengths you take to lock your network down) provide your “guests” an attack vector into your management network.
If you can work out the line lengths of the cabling, then that would be pretty helpful. I’ve seen several instances where re-terminating cat3 as rj45 works fine for 80mbit+. Like others said, make sure you have a good cable tester.
Wi-Fi would work well if there is some good infrastructure (QOS and decent firewall)
Old post, but you said yourself, nobody uses guest room phones and nobody really uses wired internet at a hotel. Why would in invest in that infrastructure in an old hotel. Couple of Grandstream SIP->POT 24 port adapters, reuse all your old hardware and utilize the phones immediately to recoup the investment (LD call rebill etc)
Thank you for the input. The project is a slow moving one, and I appreciate the comments.
The reason the hotel wants to have wired phone service is in the event of a situation, and the guests don’t know where they are to reliably describe to 911 where to send help. An important second feature is for directing Pizza deliveries “Room 123, your pizza is here”, and a desire to page everyone of a storm or evacuation situation. And people still use wake up calls… when I travel, I use the iPhone to set the alarms, and then call the front desk and have them send me an alarm as a backup.
==> Interesting free fact: never travel and put your phone on the hotel WiFi. If the WiFi sends the wrong time to the phone, the alarms can get all messed up. This did not happen to me, but a business friend of mine.
I retrofitted an old facility with several buildings that had mostly entirely analog service. The Grandstream 48 port adapters worked great. Just wired up the 50 pin adapter directly on to the old wiring block and we were off to the races. Executive phones have been converted to true voip but all the rest is still analog.
The GXW-4248 were around $20 per channel.
They are actually not bad for the prices. Out of about 20 I’ve had about 2 go bad mostly after bad weather and electrical issues. Support from Grandstream is lacking but they are very easy to configure. They booted the config from the TFTP server and provisioned right away with EPM. Haven’t had to physically touch the other 18 since. The Vega’s are a lot more resliaiant and have many more features but most people probably won’t use the extra features. Almost makes them more complicated to navigate through. If we had the budget would have went with the Vega’s but if your looking for a good price/value the GXW’s are a good fit.
I just don’t always have the budget for the Vegas, especially for analog phones, at least not for every single project. I need at least ten 16 port units for an upcoming project and the customer just doesn’t have the capital to put out for higher end, and are understanding the risk.
Thank you all for the update. I am looking at the Grandstream and Sangoma products.
Also, looking at the wireless phone idea. Amazingly few pieces of hardware on the market for WiFi VoIP. A number of companies have CORDLESS solutions out there, or a base station + handset design, but very very few wireless 802.11 b/g/n solutions out there. I figured there would be more hardware in the market along the lines of wireless printers… put in network information, SIP information, and you have a WiFi phone.
One phone I did find seems too good to be true: the ATCOM A20W for $29.00 Helix Telecom out of Wyoming offers it, and an outfit out of China. Plug the wall wart in for power, type in your network stuff, and away you go. Says it is Asterisk certified. Just seems too good to be true – wondering if you guys have heard about it.
Since the advent of cellphones, the typical hotel scenario is a lot of room phones with a low volume of mostly internal calls, so the phone service is no longer the moneymaker it used to be.
I set up a 40 fxs/8fxo Channel Bank on my (now) elderly Elastix/FreePBX system 7 years ago. Although there are some Yealink SIP phones deployed for administration, everything else is analog, including a couple of rock-solid EnGenius cordless phones and several door phones. I tried wifi in the past through my old Nokia and iPhone, but found that dropouts and delays were frustrating as I roamed around our largish property.
Some cabling and phones were recycled from the previous installation, the phones are cheap and easy to replace anyway, and no network wiring, poe switches or UPSs are needed. Since I was spending my own money, this was kind of important to me.
The hardest part of the installation was customizing Freepbx and getting the Dahdi hardware working properly, not much documentation here, and there are several “gotchas” in freepbx that needed to be fixed. And it does call for pot wiring experience, jb wiring, jumpering etc. Definitely not an off-the-peg solution, but it worked for me.