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Fiber Networks Are the Foundation to Securing Digital Data in Hospitality

IT professionals in the hospitality industry have one major concern in common: security breaches. Over the past few years, hackers have proven that no one is exempt from cybercrime. Security breaches affect millions of people and cost companies millions of dollars each year. It is vital in today’s digital world to have reliable and secure networks that keep personal and institutional data secure and confidential.

The hospitality industry is a primary target for cyber attacks because digital data is collected beyond the rooms people stay in. Spas, business services, restaurants, bars and parking garages are also commonplaces for data collection. Because of the amount and different types of data collected, it is important that data is stored and transmitted in the most secure way possible.

Industry experts agree – networks built with a Passive Optical LAN (POL) are much more secure than those built with traditional copper switching networks. That is because fiber transmits light, not electrical signals like copper, which means hackers cannot listen to signal emissions.

Passive Optical LAN technology addresses the hotel industry’s primary concerns; security, cost, space savings, low power utilization and equipment. With old and new infrastructures, the technology can be powered through wireless or over existing Ethernet ports. Imagine adding one more room on each floor because you can eliminate a wiring closet by using fiber-optic technology versus copper.

This new evolution of LANs has led hotels worldwide to adopt Passive Optical LAN as their infrastructure of choice for new builds and rehabilitation efforts. While security may have prompted some of these decisions, additional benefits such as cost and space savings abound. The typical Optical LAN implementation provides a lower total cost of ownership, saves space and future-proofs the network while simultaneously offering a level of security that meets the Department of Defense JITIC standards.

Copper Cabling

For years, copper cabling has been the industry standard for carrying telephone, computer and Internet signals. Today, most LANs use copper wiring, typically copper Category 5, which has a rated bandwidth of 100 MHz. However, copper is electric and acts like an antenna, allowing cross talk between wires. In layman’s terms, that means transmissions relayed over copper wiring allow interception of signals, which can lead to irreparable security losses. Finally, copper must be constantly upgraded every few years to meet the network architectural changes of a growing business.

To keep copper from breaking-down, working efficiently and meeting a hotel’s bandwidth needs, it needs to be replaced every six to seven years. That comes with higher costs. Instead of replacing copper wiring each time a structured cable replacement is needed, hotels should consider deploying a Passive Optical LAN network for lower cost of ownership, enhanced security and a future-proofed network.

When hotel networks are hacked, hotels are deemed as negligent and there is a lot of risk for the guests, sometimes resulting in litigation. Today, entities such as the military use Passive Optical LAN technology for this reason – to keep institutional data secure.

Fiber-Optic Cabling

The next-generation data cabling option is fiber-optic cabling. Fiber has a better bend radius and more flexible pull strength than standard Category 5 cabling. Laser light pulses are transmitted through a thin glass core that allows for faster transmission over greater distances when compared to traditional copper cabling. Fiber optics also support greater signal capabilities because light transmits at a higher frequency. Fiber is considered a better solution for last-mile technology when compared to copper, thanks to fiber’s ability to transmit data at a higher rate than copper. But as secure as a fiberoptic network is, a Passive Optical LAN is even more secure.

A Passive Optical LAN network also provides hotels with powering options. The network can be locally powered or remotely powered. For a local powered network, several Optical Network Terminals (ONT) are placed in hotel hallways or room closets and power services over Ethernet, like VoIP phones, WiFi or cameras. With remotely powered networks, hotels control multiple ONTs from a power station and distribute or centralize service to guest rooms.

Passive Optical LAN deployments allow for unlimited bandwidth. Today, most hotel guests arrive with multiple devices that they operate on the WiFi network in their room to run Internet, video, voice and data. Having fiber-optic technology assures that these services are available, reliable and secure. Unlike Category 5 copper cabling, a rated bandwidth of 100 MHz, Passive Optical LAN delivers 1 Gigabit or more of bandwidth, thus it can support a guest who is running a tablet, phone, laptop and more all at the same time.

With hundreds, if not thousands of rooms in a hotel, the Fiber-To-The-Room (FTTR) connection delivers triple-play services to customers. The multiple access points in each room for cable, phone, cameras, gadgets, HDTVs and more, allow people to connect to nearly anything. Passive Optical LAN technology can provide and adapt to existing infrastructures and support the bandwidth necessary for the services hotels want to provide to their guests in each room.

Passive Optical LAN

There are high-density Passive Optical LAN-based Ethernet solutions available in the industry today. It allows a customer to deploy a multi-gigabit network and provides a 25-year warranted infrastructure supporting terabits of future throughout. In addition to increased security, a Passive Optical LAN provides reduced capital cost, decreased power and cooling costs, optimized performance and security.

If a copper-based network is down for even a couple hours, the repercussions and inconvenience for employees and guests are immense. Some Passive Optical LAN solutions excel at performance, which can translate to as little as six minutes of downtime per year. This is a tremendous advantage in an environment where the reliable exchange of customer information and bandwidth support is key to their experience.

Fiber = Security

Passive Optical LANs are the networks of choice in today’s highly sensitive environment of holding people’s personal and payment information. Copper-based networks cannot compete with the highly secure network connections provided by fiber. Fiber supports 128-bit AES encryption in the downstream direction, a standard established by the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).

  • Fiber is inherently more secure than traditional copper cables. The electrical signals transmitted by copper can be listened to and can also interfere with external sensitive devices. Fiber transmits light and therefore has no signal emission. Without signal emissions, it’s difficult to attach listening devices. Fiber is also difficult to splice and requires specialized equipment and knowledge. Finally, if a breach is attempted, the optical supervision functionality of a Passive Optical LAN sends alarms when a light level on the fiber raises or lowers, indicating tampering or a change in the network.
  • DASAN Zhone Solutions’ POL solution includes advanced software access controls. DASAN Zhone Solutions (DZS) has developed highly sophisticated software access controls including advanced feature sets that are built into the DZS Passive Optical LAN solution. DZS’ solution supports MAC-based access control lists, which allows operators to grant access permission to select devices across connected clients. The DZS Passive Optical LAN platform also supports sticky MACs, which lock a MAC address to a port for a predetermined amount of time.
  • The POL platform enables centralized management. For operators, the DZS Passive Optical LAN platform allows ease-of-use through optical supervision, which provides a view of everything in the network down to the device level from a single screen, and centralized management, which allows the ability to adjust provisioning, upgrade software, collect statistics and troubleshoot from one location.

Implementation

Regardless of the stage of your current network, Passive Optical LAN solutions are likely to fit your needs. New builds can start from the ground up, with a reduced footprint thanks to the space-saving benefits of Passive Optical LAN. An implementation can realize up to a 90 percent reduction in floor and rack space, and up to an 84 percent reduction in power utilization. Existing companies with an established network benefit from increased security and can gain the enriched features of Passive Optical LAN with a cabling refresh. The solutions work with existing equipment to ensure a straightforward upgrade.

When considering if Passive Optical LAN technology is right for a hospitality business, begin by examining the security measurements that must be addressed to stay ahead of hackers and protect the sensitive data entrusted to you. As the past few months have proven, no industry is exempt from attack: hotels, banks, financial institutions, retail operators and even Hollywood have lost creditability along with highly sensitive information. Hackers continue to prove elusive, despite the international campaigns to defeat them. Hospitality is a prime target for security breaches, and updating infrastructures will mitigate the risk.

Outside of being a highly secure network platform, Passive Optical LAN technology reduces cost of ownership and provides a robust platform for all the services and bandwidth hotels need to support their property and customers. Whether starting from the ground-up or updating an existing infrastructure, Passive Optical LAN technology can be deployed and relevant for the next 25 years.