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Success story: Liveport

After decades of running businesses in the IT and service sectors, Gerry Bakker saw an opportunity to provide reliable and affordable guest wireless Internet service to hotels and resorts.

“Everything out there pre-2007 didn’t work too well or was incredibly expensive; often both,” said Bakker.

When Bakker came across a cloud-managed mesh wireless product (not Open Mesh), he knew he was on to something. He named the business Liveport and installed the system in more than 100 properties within two years.

However, when the manufacturer raised prices by 400 per cent, Liveport was forced to look for a new solution, or risk losing the considerable pricing advantage that had helped the company grow so quickly.

Gerry connected with Open Mesh and quickly ordered product and began advising on features and options that would benefit hotels and resorts. Since then, Liveport has upgraded most of their existing customers to Open Mesh and deployed new systems for hundreds more [read story].

Mesh networking, and Open Mesh specifically, just makes so much sense for hotels,” said Bakker.

With Open Mesh, Liveport minimizes the number of Ethernet cables hotels have to run, typically cutting cabling costs by 50 per cent while still extending strong wireless signals to hard-to-reach places. The network is self-organizing and self-healing, so less time—typically just a few minutes per device—is spent on planning and installing each one. And because Open Mesh’s hardware is a fraction of the cost of other wi-fi hardware vendors, Liveport is able to deliver truly affordable wifi for hotels.

"Open Mesh allows us to provide everything hotels need—and more—at a price that really makes sense for both the hotelier and our company," said Bakker. "The product is incredibly reliable, easy to use, easy to install, and easy to customize to meet each hotel's specific needs. We’re able to operate in a way and deliver wifi in a way that wouldn’t be possible without Open Mesh."

Liveport primarily uses Open-Mesh’s single band series 802.11n access points, installing one unit for about every 4-10 rooms. With the indoor wall cover, the units blend in to the environment, minimizing theft and tampering by hotel guests and staff.

Where certain rooms or areas have poor coverage, Liveport simply adds more wireless nodes to bring up the signal in that area. If the repeater speeds aren’t adequate, Liveport can then target specific locations to run cables.

During and after installation, Liveport manages and monitors the hotel network through CloudTrax, Open Mesh’s cloud-based network management tool. CloudTrax allows Liveport to add and remove nodes, change SSIDs and passwords, create fully-branded splash pages, set throttling limits for each guest, block abusive downloaders, keep guests secure and separate from each other, and much more. CloudTrax also sends an email to Liveport’s guest support staff whenever a node goes offline, ensuring quick resolution and minimal disruption to guests in that area.

With the nearly unlimited scalability of Open Mesh’s products, Liveport is able to post simple, competitive, all-inclusive rates right on their website, taking the guesswork and surprises out of pricing.

“It doesn’t matter if we’re servicing a budget 30-room motel or a luxury 30-story tower, we use the same Open Mesh hardware and, for the most part, manage it through CloudTrax,” said Bakker.

"Having a system that works well and is installed right means we get very few network-related calls, so we can keep our rates low and avoid hiring an army of support staff."

"With CloudTrax and Open Mesh hardware alone, Liveport is compliant with the HSIA standards of most major chains, including IHG, Choice, Wyndham, Best Western and Starwood," said Bakker. "With the addition of a simple on-site network controller, we are compliant with essentially all other standards."

“Having a system that works well and is installed right means we get very few network-related calls, so we can keep our rates low and avoid hiring an army of support staff,” said Bakker. “We’re essentially a single-vendor sourced organization because we know we can count on Open Mesh to help us meet and exceed guest demand for truly exceptional wifi.”

*Photos courtesy of Westin Resort and Spa Whistler and Inn at Laurel Point.