Ruckus Wireless technology has been deployed for the Le Mans 24 Hours Race in France. The company had to meet a challenging brief from the race organisers ACO to unwire the press room of one of motorsport’s most prestigious events and supply it with 100% reliable Wi-Fi.
Fabrice Gérard, IT manager for the ACO, said: ‘We didn’t have a precise idea of what we needed. We just wanted it to work.’
The initial brief involved removing the hundreds of wires that connected the paddocks, the stands, the press room and so on, and replacing them with a Wi-Fi network. Ruckus said that a number of networking integrators submitted solutions which were, on paper, very attractive. However, none of them succeeded in passing the ultimate test: the extreme conditions of Le Mans 24 Hours.
‘A normal race is easy to handle. You’ve got a dozen journalists needing Internet access in the press room and some radio connections to bear in mind,’ said Gérard. ‘During the main racing weekend of Le Mans 24 Hours we’ve got 1,300 journalists and more than a hundred private Wi-Fi networks to deal with. It’s total anarchy.’
‘If you can identify the problem, you’re half way to finding the solution,’ said Richard Mézière, manager of Illico Réseau, the integration partner of Ruckus Wireless responsible for the installation and management of the network at the race track.
‘Users never give us much to go on. They’ll just say, “It doesn’t work!”, which is where the Ruckus system comes into its own because it allows us to monitor precisely how the network is dealing with the workload, what the possible failures might be and what provoked them.’
Ruckus had to grapple with the fact that there are very few knowables in a motor-racing event such as the Le Mans 24 Hours.
‘Let’s be clear, we cannot say where our Wi-Fi clients are going to be and what their bandwidth requirements will be. It’s the same for the press room. We can’t forecast peaks and troughs in user traffic, it all depends on what happens in the race,’ explained Mézière. ‘With so many variables in play, we couldn’t deploy a classic infrastructure.’
Le Mans 24 Hours makes two key requirements, which prevent the use of a standard solution:
• redundancy in critical areas of the site to ensure optimal service whatever the surrounding conditions;
• most of the hotspots must be mobile, so the network can be adapted, in real time, to requirements on the ground.
The ACO chose Ruckus Wireless’s BeamFlex technology to do the job. The Le Mans 24 Hours organisers saw it as the best possible technology for dealing with the various sources of interference around the race track, such as unofficial Wi-Fi networks and radio communications between the drivers and their support teams.
BeamFlex is a patented and proprietary technology of Ruckus Wireless. It is a smart, compact antenna array with multiple elements which directs transmit energy towards the best path for the receiving device. It enables the Wi-Fi signal to be adapted in real time to avoid the problems that beset networks in extreme conditions.
‘When we presented our solution in 2011, it was to a wary audience which had experienced a number of disappointing solutions,’ said Andrew Bartram, sales manager at Ruckus Wireless.
‘We made them a simple offer: we deploy a Ruckus solution at reduced cost during the Le Mans 24 Hours and then let the ACO decide. It was a complete success. Six months later we started negotiations to carry our business relationship forward. Today, Ruckus Wireless is proud to have deployed a successful Wi-Fi network where other suppliers failed. We are also proud to be serving the needs of a race that holds such a prestigious place in the history of motorsport.’