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Introduction

The term “Hotspot” refers to a place (usually public), that provides Internet access using Wi-Fi LAN technology; such as used at hotels, restaurants, coffee houses, RV parks, malls, plazas, libraries, universities, and airports. Internet access like these come in two flavors: complementary or fee based. Fee based Internet access is predominately used by the hospitality industry as a revenue stream.

IPES impacts existing hotspots

Hotspots are not immune to the impacts of IP-based Entertainment Services (IPES) like Netflix, Hulu or YouTube. Just like any other Wi-Fi network, just a few unrestricted users streaming video, downloading large (video) files, or file sharing using bit torrents impacts every user on the system.

Hotspot operators face patent lawsuits

With fee based Wi-Fi Internet access, web users are automatically redirected to a landing page where they are either authenticated through a ticket system or pay directly for access to the Internet. This approach to managing user access is technically referred to as a walled-garden or gateway page redirect and appears to have been patented by no less than two companies. A web search for “Nomadix hotspot patent suit” quickly returns a plethora of stories describing the patents and associated attacks on existing hotspot providers.

It's time for a new business model

When you consider that guests desire free Internet access, that unrestricted IPES impacts all Wi-Fi users on a hotspot, and that traditional hotspots are under the threat of patent infringement and litigation, we assert that it's time for a new business model — a model where the hospitality industry can provide fast complementary access to guests while offering the the ability to up-sell higher service levels to guests who require it.

A Fair Use Policy (FUP) describing the courtesy Internet access capabilities and limitations can be provided at check in, posted in common areas and hotel rooms. A schedule describing higher levels of service is included with the FUP: levels of service that provide more total bandwidth either in speed and/or quantity, levels that support seamless delivery of IPES, and work related services like VPN's. These various tiers of service could be sold by the front desk, an attendant on the phone, or through a website. Additional information can be provided on a web page that further describes the service and includes the path to upgrade the service level.

Many venues are discovering that WiFi drives traffic to a business that offers it. DBS has created a new business model for providing courtesy Internet access that is less intrusive and is on 24 hours a day, compared to the typical 30 minute limit for courtesy service. And DBS controls users in a manner that protects network resources, ensuring the best possible user experience for the greatest number of guests.

Understanding that WiFi drives traffic to a business, many hospitality venues including campgrounds, RV parks, motels, hotels, along with retail establishments like cafes, coffee shops, truck stops, and even condo and apartment complexes advertise “FREE” WiFi and charge it against the advertising or marketing budgets. Alternatively, $1 per day is added as part of a resort fee or $10 per month for long term guests. Either method delivers the product your guests are looking for, and the latter comes with demonstrable revenue.

In summary, traditional hotspots are obsolete. The new business model for open WiFi Internet access is the DBS system.

... the Dynamic Bandwidth Shaper provides online graphs for a subscriber's traffic ... We provide that link to our subscribers so they won't call tech support when they're trying to troubleshoot the reason why they can't stream any more video ...

River District Manager, Swift Wireless

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