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Forget sun, sea and sights – more than a third of holiday makers across Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) say good mobile data coverage is a determining factor when choosing a destination. Of that, 86 percent expecting wireless connectivity at their hotels so they can stay connected, according to a Brocade survey, which points to a sea change in the holidaying patterns of increasingly well-connected EMEA travellers.


On vacation, as at home, the temptation to work from mobile devices persists, with more than half of holiday makers admitting to doing so. Whether it’s checking one final e-mail in the departure lounge or making a conference call from the beach bar, it seems the majority of us have a hard time letting go, on vacation or otherwise.

Approximately 95 percent of the respondents admitted taking their mobile devices on vacation, and they are as likely to use them for work as for personal use. More than half (56 percent) of respondents said they used their mobile device for accessing work e-mail or downloading work documents, an increase over last year’s figure of  48 percent.

“There is significant blurring between personal time and work time in modern society, with the consumerization of IT and BYOD  working policies leading many people to rely on smartphones and tablet devices around the clock, wherever they may be and whatever they may be doing,” says SufianDweik, regional manager, MENA at Brocade.


“There is a fundamental change in working patterns and demands on networking architectures. It used to be that when people went on vacation, that’s what they did. Now, we can never switch off from work. With this, the demand on service providers and mobile operators to provide ubiquitous, reliable coverage has never been higher.”

More than a third (37 percent) of respondents noted good mobile data coverage (for example, 3G/4G) was a determining factor in their choice of destination. Furthermore, 86 percent expected hotels to provide free Wi-Fi access. A lack of available Wi-Fi was also the second most popular concern about accessing the Internet from abroad, behind only high roaming costs.

These findings, Dweik suggests, could show the leisure industry the way to securing a competitive edge in challenging economic times: “With incoming 4G networks promising to multiply speeds and available bandwidth, mobile data coverage will exert an even greater influence on people’s holiday choices.


”People want to reduce the overall impact of work on their holidays – both for themselves and for those they travel with – and they are looking for ways to get the same amount of work done in just a fraction of the time.  To do this, the underlying network infrastructure needs to cope. However, the findings may indicate there is still a gulf between the expectations of modern travellers and the reality.


“Many destinations are unable to satisfy demands when it comes to connectivity,” explains Dweik. “Hotels should look at the incredible demand for free Wi-Fi and provide residents with reliable connectivity – whether in their rooms, at the bar or by the pool. Widely available, high-quality Internet access could very soon make the difference between a hugely successful season and a disastrous one. Without it, hotels risk damaging their revenues and reputations.”

Other key findings include:

  • Smartphones emerged as the most popular device for holiday makers, with 91 percent of respondents taking one with them on holiday. This was followed closely by laptops and notebooks (49 percent), and tablet computers (42 percent).


  • Coming in second only to accessing personal e-mail [when asked the primary reason for using a connected device on holiday] was accessing work e-mail. The use of social media also featured prominently in the responses, placing third.


  •  Approximately a third (32 percent) stated that they intended to stream coverage of the Olympics through their devices whilst on vacation, again placing immense pressure on local networks to provide sufficient bandwidth and service reliability to users.

“These findings serve as a reminder that the smartphone/tablet revolution is ongoing, and the challenges of supporting the volumes of mobile data will continue to tax the communications industry,” notes Dweik. “This explosion in mobile data is one of the key challenges to the industry. Mobile devices will place an increasing strain not just on Wi-Fi and mobile networks, but also on corporate and data centre networks that form the foundation of any service.” These underlying networks need to be extremely robust and designed specifically for the challenges of mobile data.


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