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Study: Half of U.S. hotel rooms have broadband

Broadband growth doubles in hotels, as chains try to tap into demand for speedy Internet access.

Half of all hotel rooms in the United States are now offering broadband to their guests, as chains try to tap into business travelers' demands for speedy Internet access.

Broadband growth in the industry more than doubled from 2001, when 23 percent of all hotel rooms offered broadband, according to a survey released Wednesday by the American Hotel & Lodging Association (AH&LA). Only 7 percent of hotels offered the technology in 1998.

Luxury rooms in particular showed a high percentage of broadband penetration, at 88 percent. Economy hotels reported in the survey that only 28 percent of their rooms offer broadband.

The study offers further proof that hotels consider broadband to be a strong incentive for guests to book rooms at those properties. A study last month by In-Stat/MDR predicted that the number of hotel properties with broadband would jump from 5,207 in 2003 to 26,828 in 2008. The report showed that revenues from broadband would reach $428 million this year and grow to $1.8 billion by 2008.

The AH&LA study covered amenities other than just broadband. For instance, it reported that 35 percent of hotels offer wireless Internet access. High-definition televisions appear in 8 percent of all rooms, though mostly in luxury hotels, while 23 percent offer interactive TV, the group said.

Meanwhile, other perks have reached near ubiquity. Almost all hotel rooms--98 percent--offer cable or satellite TV. That's more than the 91 percent of rooms that have irons and ironing boards.

The survey, conducted by Smith Travel Research on behalf of the AH&LA, was sent to nearly 48,000 U.S. hotels. About 13 percent responded.