Cisco reseller tames hotel IP networks
Some in hospitaly industry seek convergence via Lorica.
By Jim Duffy, Network World, 03/13/06
BUFFALO, N.Y. - Advancements in IP are not lost on the hospitality industry.
Hotels and resorts offer high-speed Internet access from guest rooms over Ethernet, DSL and Wi-Fi. Increasingly, however, they also are embracing IP telephony, IP TV and other advancements tailored for everyday use.
Add that to industry-specific protocols and mechanisms such as Zigbee for guest-room control functions, and the wiring and
cable management task can quickly get out of hand.
That's why a couple of hotels are installing, or thinking of installing, a product from a Cisco reseller designed to consolidate the electronic features of a hotel room into one cable. Lorica Solutions of Amherst, N.Y., has developed the Lorica Room Center, a single circuit board hidden in a hotel room closet that consolidates
TV, phone, wired and wireless Internet access, and room-control functions onto a single cable, network and manageable device.
"We are equipping hotel rooms with more and more IP devices," says Nick Price, CTO at Mandarin Oriental hotel group and president
of the Hotel Technology Next Generation trade association. "It's impractical when you scale up to five, six or 10 Category 5 [cabling] endpoints to do home runs
to a wiring closet on the floor. The last thing you want in a hotel room is a power adapter for someone with a vacuum cleaner
to come along and unplug and not put back in."
The Room Center requires only one cable to access and control all critical room systems, eliminating multiple wiring systems
for each room function. It's also intended to create demand for more IP services and features in a hotel room for which hoteliers
can charge tiered rates depending on the application and required bandwidth.
For example, a guest who uses a Skype IP phone could request an Internet service tier that lets a Skype phone become the guest's
room phone. Also, if guests want to download a movie onto their laptop from a site like MovieLink, a hotelier can offer an
Internet service tier that supports bandwidth-hungry applications.
"The vast majority [of hoteliers] think, 'I just have to have high-speed Internet,'" says Clark Crook, president of Lorica
Solutions. "That's where the missionary work comes in. If we're capable of defining ROI, we have some compelling stories to
Some of those returns come from eliminating separate coaxial cabling in hotel rooms to support cable TV. Other savings would
come from the reduction in the number of Cisco Power over Ethernet (PoE) switches required to drive all the IP devices in
a room. Each Room Center board comes with a 16-port Cisco 100Mbps Ethernet switch, eight ports of which support IEEE 802.3af-compliant or Cisco proprietary PoE.