Originally Published: Monday, 6 September 1999 Author: Ed Matthews
Published to: corp_features/General Page: 1/1 - [Printable]

High speed internet access may soon be coming to a hotel near you.

To make the service work, SolarCom installs servers running the open source Linux operating system.

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Solar Communications, of southern New Jersey, is beta testing its in-room internet access, called PCRoomLink, at a Holiday Inn in Runnemede, NJ, and plans to take its technology model nationwide later this year.

PC Room Link is offered to hotel customers via a kiosk in each room. To access the service customers pay an additional room fee, and receive a login for unlimited browsing at T1 speeds. There is also a jack in each room for those who want to plug in a laptop.

To make the service work, SolarCom installs servers running the open source Linux operating system. The server provides network address translation, integration to a billing system, and authentication of client logins.

Why Linux? "We found that [Microsoft Windows] NT wasn't able to perform at our standards," explains systems engineer Rick Ackerman.

For the network layer, PCRoomLink relies on TUT Systems for integration into the hotel's existing phone system. The Linux server runs the firewall/dhcpd/arpd to allow and disallow clients.

The in-room kiosks do rely on Microsoft's Windows NT 4.0 Workstation, "mostly because of application issues," Ackerman says. "Our goal is to have a Linux kiosk in the future."

He adds, "If it was a perfect world we would be using linux for everything, but we also have a few NT servers for intel landesk client side management. For software updates, etc."

SolarCom installs the entire network at no cost to the host hotel, and shares revenues from the internet service charges.

To provide support, SolarCom will have technical support staff handling calls on a 24/7 basis. They don't anticipate many support issues with the kiosks, expecting most to come from laptop owners.

To read more about PCRoomLink, or to apply for a Linux related job, (Ackerman says, "we are seeking qualified engineers, software developers, etc, who are willing to relocate to southern New Jersey.") visit the web site at www.pcroomlink.com, or if you don't have the Macromedia Flash plugin, www.pcroomlink.com/index.htm.

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