European Hotels Get Broadband Hook-Up

[May 5] An Australian communications company named
inter-touch announced
Friday that it will invest around £55 million (US$84 million)
to provide high-speed Internet access in European and Middle
Eastern hotels.

inter-touch, previously known as NetPort Hospitality Systems,
says it has already invested over £68,000 into Britain’s
Royal Garden Hotel and Millennium Madejski Hotel where it
has equipped, respectively, 87 and 140 guestrooms with
broadband access. It has also installed similar systems in
Le Baron Hotel in Dubai.

inter-touch says it aims to recruit over 30 staff over the
next three years to look after its European broadband venture,
and will put £15 million (US$23 million) of its
total investment into the U.K.

Allan Taylor, president of sales and marketing at inter-touch,
said that demand for his company’s services was growing steadily
because travelers have experienced in-room Internet facilities
at major hotels and airline lounges abroad.

“Across the globe, the Internet is becoming a crucial part of
business life, and inevitably business travelers will make
decisions about where to stay according to the facilities
offered,” said Taylor.

“Very soon, supplying a room with Internet access will become
as important as supplying a telephone, and certainly more important
than the minibar!”

However, hotel guests in the U.K. will have to brace themselves
for the bill, which will be substantially higher than obtaining
Internet access at home or work. The inter-touch WORK-LINK service
is charged “at a low price of just 30 pence per minute” (46 cents),
up to a maximum of £12 ($18) a day, plus 17.5 per cent
Value Added Tax.

In return for what is surely a relatively high price, users get
the convenience of a high-speed connection in the privacy of
their room. Although the U.K. has hundreds of Internet cafes
which offer much cheaper access, they tend to be crowded and
extremely public, with systems geared more to e-mail than
broadband media.

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