We know guest room technology is very important to our guests. A couple of months ago, I blogged about some new technology we're installing in our full service hotels. It's an LCD television with a connectivity panel, so you can watch and listen to digital devices through the television. Judging from the reaction we're getting since the marketing and rollout began, it's going to be very popular.
In response to that blog, a lot of you sent me comments asking why we charge for high speed Internet access in some brands but not in others. I know it's a question our competitors also hear a lot.
In our full service hotels in the U.S. and in Canada, we will bundle, on request, high-speed with unlimited local and long distance phone calls for a flat rate. We responded to business travelers who worried that a cell call might be dropped in the middle of an important business conversation, and who also wanted a predictable, all-in-one price.
Meanwhile, high-speed and WiFi are complimentary at Courtyard, Residence Inn, Fairfield Inn, TownePlace Suites and SpringHill Suites. A couple of those brands had already offered free local calling.
When we introduced complimentary broadband three years ago, demand for high-speed was just building. Back then, the economy was weak and occupancy was down. Many hotels in the moderate tier were looking for a competitive advantage.
Times have changed now. Today, nearly every business traveler demands fast access to the Internet. They're also downloading and uploading larger files. And many of our hotels are often sold out. The combination can put a strain on the system. That's why our approved high-speed vendors must be able to manage bandwidth so connections and downloads remain very fast.
Soon, we'll begin replacing high-speed connection boxes in our hotels. They'll be more reliable and they'll reduce guest complaints. But providing high-speed connections and service improvements must be paid for by each hotel, and it's very costly. It affects the bottom lines of our hotel investors-and, as I have mentioned in the past, we don't own our hotels, we manage them for their investor owners.
Occasionally, we hear rumors that Marriott, or one of its competitors, is about to make high-speed free in full service hotels. In the end, they are just rumors. I know this is a controversial topic, but that's why I blog, to have a frank conversation with our guests.
I'm Bill Marriott and thanks for helping me keep Marriott on the move.