By Mark Chertkow, managing director at Graphic Image Technologies
While hotels are supposed to have all the comforts of home, travellers often notice and complain that one thing about hotel living is definitely not the same: the lack of choice in television channels on the hotel television. Access to a wide variety of choice in broadcast channels is usually expected only from hotels with a higher room price tags, as traditional set-ups in hospitality require the purchase and installation of expensive off-satellite equipment to deliver TV every room. Until now there was no other way to create a functional television system without spending a fortune. However, this is no longer the case and with linear Internet Protocol Television (IPTV) technology solutions it is now possible for hotels to build cost-effective television systems and improve their guest in-room entertainment and overall satisfaction.
In the old days a stack of setup boxes would be required, each playing out a channel which were then delivered to all the rooms via their cable network. There is also a STB solution for hotels running a Radio Frequency (RF) cabling. If the hotel was using free-to-air content there would be no requirement for additional access and encryption, providing a cost-effective TV deployment solution.
Technology makes everything easier and more affordable
All of the functionalities of a Conditional Access System (CAS) and a DVB (Digital Video Broadcasting) scrambler have been combined into a single distribution solution for the hospitality industry, in a compact form factor. Consisting of a DVB-S2 to IP Streamer rack unit that is capable of processing either 12/24 streams per module with 3 modules per rack, these devices can be easily configured via web browser and all they need is a power supply and a controller.
With this kind of product, it is possible to build a system of units that receive broadcast feeds from satellite (or digital terrestrial, when migration takes place) and uses these feeds to create an IP stream of all channels. Based on channels selected by the hotel operator or their contract, it is then possible to groom these channels into bouquet based channel offerings and pass these on to guests over the hotel network. Each television simply requires an IP (or even RF) connection and once it’s been configured correctly and a channel list will be populated for the hotel guests.
In addition, for hotels that are using paid TV feeds, this solution can support cost effective conditional access which would encrypt the TV across the hotel network until they were played out on the TV in the guest’s rooms should that be a requirement of the content provider. This encryption platform can handle the workload of encryption for feeds for up to 5000 rooms, so it offers scalability along with cost-effectiveness, although it requires a smartcard to plug into each television, along with an IP network connection to decrypt the channels and play them out.
Cut costs while improving guest satisfaction
No matter the use or application, it is now easier and more cost-effective than ever before to create a television distribution platform for hotels, so there really is no longer any excuse for hotels in Africa not to spoil their guests with a variety of viewing options.