WiFi for holiday cottagesHow to holiday let
Access to the internet on holiday is no longer just a requirement for those who need to stay in contact with the office – as our survey shows, 94% of guests prefer there to be a broadband connection.
For many people, it has become an important way to keep in touch with family and friends as well as an entertainment medium on a par with the television. Providing wireless broadband internet access for your guests’ use is a relatively simple way to broaden the appeal of your holiday property. For more information have a look at our WIFI survey.
If there’s any tech terms you can’t quite get your head around here, jump over to our Glossary of WiFi definitions.
Is it viable?
The speed and reliability of a broadband connection depends largely on the distance of your property from the nearest telephone exchange. To get an (optimistic) estimate of the broadband speed you can expect at the property you can enter the phone number on the BT website or use a broadband speed checker if you’re already up and running. If your speeds are significantly less than that specified in your package, it may be worth considering these alternatives.
Sharing an existing connection
If you have an existing wireless broadband connection at home and your holiday property is close by, it may be possible to share a network with your guests. However, even if the holiday property is within range of your existing wireless signal, it may be weak or unreliable for guests to use this way so consider installing an additional wireless access point in the property. This will not only boost the wireless signal, but also gives the guests cable access to the internet should there be any compatibility issues with their wireless devices. Note that unless additional technology is used (isolated LANs or firewalls) this approach does have privacy and security implications for all computers that connect to the network (see our article on internet law).
A number of companies offer serviced solutions that can be provided ‘at cost’ to your guests. Most solutions of this type involve an initial investment in equipment and may also require you to have a dedicated line and broadband subscription. Guests are required to register with their credit card to gain internet access on a ‘pay-as-you-go’ basis. Although these solutions are robust and remove the potential hassle of support, they can prove expensive and we find that guests resent the additional charge. For this reason we would not currently advertise a property as having an internet connection if it was provided on this basis.
Going it alone
Over the last few years both the cost and complexity of providing a wireless network for your guests have fallen. If you get it right, it is a really cost-effective way to add a new dimension to your property. All you need are a phone line, a broadband package with an internet service provider (ISP), wireless broadband router and a bit of patience! Do remember however, that if something goes wrong your guests may look to you for support so we’ve provided a series of articles to help you keep things simple and serviceable.
When choosing an ISP and broadband package, the three most important factors to consider are price, download allowance and their commitment to support. The best way to compare them is to find out what their customers think, speak to friends or compare online at www.thinkbroadband.com. Some ISPs offer short term (monthly) contracts that can be particularly useful for properties with a shorter season, however check that any fees associated with reconnection do not outweigh the savings.
Broadband packages tend to vary in price in relation to the amount of data you are allowed to download per month. Usage above the limit on your package is often charged at a premium ‘pay as you go’ rate. At your holiday property, usage will depend on the speed of your internet connection, the proportion of time you are occupied and the preferences of your guests. Choosing an ISP that will let you freely migrate between packages can save you money as you can migrate to a cheaper plan out of peak season.
Some broadband packages will include a free broadband router, however this can be at the expense of a long contract tie-in. The very cheapest broadband routers can be unreliable and more difficult to install, while the features found in top-end solutions are more relevant to fast media sharing between computers than simply providing an internet connection. Again, look to friends and the internet for advice. Site your router somewhere accessible to your guests and always keep a spare network cable (cost pence) so that your guests can connect directly in the event of any problems with their wireless connection.
If you know a good local IT company in your area it may be worth finding out how much they would charge to provide support for your guests or help in setting up your network. If you know anyone good in your area, do let us know so we can pass on you recommendation to other Owners. We’ve put together a list of local IT support for each area of the south west, that we think will be worth contacting if you need some expertise.
What are the legal implications of providing an internet connection for guests?
There is a risk that the internet connection you provide for guests could be used in a way that contravenes your service agreement with your ISP or could even be used to commit a criminal offence. It is also a possibility that a guest’s computer could be damaged by their own use of the internet whilst connected to the service you provide. For these reasons it is important to have agreed terms and conditions with your guest. One approach to this is to pass on the terms and conditions as laid down by your Internet Service provider (ISP) on the same document you use to inform the user of the procedure they need to take to connect to your network, including any network passwords. You should also point out to the guest that you have no liability in any role other than network provision and advise that they take steps to ensure their own safety on-line. Our template for conveying this information can be downloaded here.
If you want to know more about legal implications, try our article on Internet Law for Holiday Cottages and if all else fails, be sure to provide a list of nearby hotspots, such as cafes etc, that offer free public WiFi in your Cottage Information Folder.
Any more questions? Try our blog of WiFi answers.