One of the biggest bugbears of the modern traveller, whether for business or pleasure, is hotel connectivity – or, most specifically, its lack of quality.
To keep guests satisfied and to be able heighten the quality of experience in the increasing amount of digital services it offers, Meliá Hotels International has developed and implemented a standalone (SA) 5G pilot to show the possibilities of network slicing technology in the hotel sector.
Working with operator Telefónica, Ericsson, Intel and Lingmo International, and developed within the framework of projects cofunded by Red.es, the chain undertook the pilot at the Hotel Meliá Madrid Serrano, making the location the first of its kind in Spain with 5G non-SA (NSA), 5G standalone SA and network slicing. In addition, network slicing has been implemented on a commercial network, said to make the pilot a pioneering experience in Europe on commercial 5G SA networks.
Ericsson provided network slicing technology based on commercial functionalities, which have been implemented over the 5G SA coverage deployed in the hotel, using high-performance Radio Dot System technology, MIMO 4×4, and what is described as a “modular and elegant” design that adapts to any indoor environment. Intel is the provider of the translation computing servers in Telefónica’s edge computing, and Lingmo International is developer of the translation software.
The project provided the hotel with specific 5G NSA and SA coverage in different areas where several networks have been configured by means of 5G network slicing, allowing it to respond to different connectivity needs – specifically, several 5G virtual mobile networks (slices) have been configured to guarantee services such as simultaneous translation or video streaming.
As a slice can be configured to have both bandwidth guarantee and ultra-low latency capabilities, the hotel can have different units that ensure different services such as video surveillance cameras, communications services for hotel employees, 5G broadcasting of streaming video at conferences, and to ensure connectivity in events with increased user congestion.
As for simultaneous translation, it relies on the low latency of 5G and the capabilities of edge computing to quickly process the conversations and messages to translate as it is enabled very close to where these data are emitted. This service allows translation into more than 80 written and 28 spoken languages and makes it easier for two people without a common language to understand each other by having the device translate the words emitted by each of them in real time, in addition to having a text version sent to the cell phone to facilitate understanding.
“At Meliá, we always want to be one step ahead in innovation and exceed our customers’ expectations, providing the latest technologies on the market,” said Christian Palomino, IT vice-president of Meliá Hotels International.
“We are clear that the 5G network and new solutions such as network slicing open a window of possibilities to ensure the best possible connectivity to our customers, in a secure and reliable environment, and meeting all their specific needs.”
Leonor Ostos, innovation manager at Telefónica Spain, added: “With these projects, we are making the latest advances in 5G available to real customers with the aim of evaluating the possibilities offered by new technologies, as well as implementing pilots that contribute to building the necessary ecosystem for 5G to consolidate.”