The London entertainment and exhibition venue, Alexandra Palace, has deployed Xirrus wireless arrays to provide its clients and one million annual visitors with a fast and engaging Wi-Fi experience across 10,873 square metres of events space.
Alexandra Palace is an iconic entertainment and leisure destination in North London and has been the centre of music, sport and events for over 130 years. Built as the ‘People's Palace’ in 1873, the historic seven-acre Grade II listed venue sits in 196 acres of parkland and boasts panoramic views of London.
Emma Dagnes, commercial director at Alexandra Palace said: ‘We are thrilled that we are now able to provide a first-class Wi-Fi service to our clients at Alexandra Palace all year round. In today's market, it is imperative for venues such as us to remain competitive, and having the ability to provide clients with a reliable and integrated wireless service will ensure our iconic venue continues to attract world-class live events and premier exhibitions.
‘Our aim is to help our clients enjoy the heritage of Alexandra Palace whilst enabling them to embrace the technology of the present and future. We also know that by providing a fast and reliable network service to our clients, they will be able to engage in new communication channels, promote their services and take advantage of additional advertising and revenue generating opportunities such as branded Wi-Fi portals linking directly to their websites.’
Developing a wireless network of Olympic standards
Prior to summer 2012, there was no permanent wireless network infrastructure in place at Alexandra Palace with Wi-Fi only provided on a case by case installation.
However, after the hugely successful deployment of Xirrus' temporary Wi-Fi across Alexandra Palace during the 2012 Dutch Olympic Team's Holland Heineken House, the venue decided to retain and extend the wireless network across its entire event space. The Palace has now deployed 100 Xirrus wireless arrays across the venue to support high bandwidth usage for its maximum capacity of up to 11,000 concurrent users.
Alexandra Palace chose Xirrus to deliver its integrated, high-performance wireless service because of its reputation as being the leading vendor able to provide this service across large and complex venues, with minimal disruption.
As a Grade II listed building, Alexandra Palace needed a solution that not only provided flawless performance in a challenging architectural environment but could be installed in adherence with strict construction guidelines.
Due to its experience of delivering sympathetic installations in historic buildings, Xirrus ensured its Arrays were in accordance with the venue's aesthetics, causing minimal disruption and requiring less networking infrastructure than other vendors.
Providing fast, high density coverage
Jason Ozin, owner of IT consultancy Technica, who worked with Alexandra Palace on the initial Xirrus implementation and permanent roll-out, commented: ‘We had looked at wireless in the past for Alexandra Palace, but its complex design and layout had caused connectivity issues.
‘During the Olympics, the Dutch team and visitors to Holland Heineken House were simply blown away by the high Wi-Fi speeds provided and the Palace was the only venue during the Games that didn't experience wireless issues thanks to Xirrus' robust solution. Its unique design means you can cover high densities of bandwidth-hungry users, across vast indoor areas within the Palace. It also gave us the right level of flexibility and manageability.’
Ozin continued: ‘As you can imagine, every event that we host has completely different requirements, so we needed a flexible wireless infrastructure that would enable us to tailor the service accordingly. The Xirrus wireless network is unique as it gives us real granularity dependent on location, meaning we can offer visitors, exhibitors and production teams tailored Wi-Fi access all from the same wireless arrays.
‘The Xirrus Management Software is exceptional as it allows us to configure arrays remotely, which is really important in a venue of this scale. We are also able to see exactly who is using the network and how, which helps the management team address any issues in real-time,’ added Ozin.
Facilitating connectivity and social sharing through Wi-Fi
At a recent Suede concert on 30 March 2013, visitors were able to use the wireless to share photos and video content across social media channels. This enabled the venue to create an engaging experience for fans to encourage recurrent visits.
Sean Larner, VP of International Sales at Xirrus, said: ‘With its wireless installation, Alexandra Palace alleviates modern day connectivity issues for both consumers and businesses through providing fast, high-performance wireless coverage. Following the success of Holland Heineken House, Alexandra Palace recognised the positive influence implementing a robust Wi-Fi solution would have on enhancing both the visitor and exhibitor experience now and in the future, as well as future-proofing development plans and creating exciting new revenue streams.’