Earls Court, Olympia boosts Wifi network

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Mass events venues Earls Court and Olympia EC&O in west London have upgraded their Wifi networks to cope with a rise in demand for wireless connectivity.

Earls Court is a sports venue for the 2012 Olympics next year and both sites host around 2.2 million visitors a year together.

The venues’ existing Wifi network which was installed in 2006 was becoming unfit for the purpose, Graham Gee, IT director at EC&O told CIO UK.

The old system could not support the amount of traffic generated by punters’ handhelds and exhibitors were fighting each other for connectivity.

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Demand for bandwidth on the venues’ wireless networks had trebled since 2007, Gee explained.

On top of this, exhibitors have increasingly used the network to tempt attendees to visit their stands.

Gee sent out an invitation to tender for a new network and pitches included trials at one of the shows at the venues. The contract winner, Ruckus Wireless was chosen because it was able to cope with the complexity of network configurations and to manage such a multiplicity of user channels.

“We are fundamentally building a new public wireless network for each show,” said Gee. “We needed management systems that could stand up to that.”

Gee explained that there is a minor revenue channel attached to the wireless network, where exhibitors pay to sponsor specific areas of the network accessed by visitors. Exhibitors can also pay for a premium wireless service.