Xirrus is supplying the Scottish Exhibition and Conference Centre (SECC) with its Wireless Arrays to deliver high capacity connectivity to the venue’s 2.2 million annual visitors.
The SECC will now be able to provide wireless access across its conference, exhibition, concerts and events halls. The venue hosts between 200 to 300 events annually, ranging from large-scale international conferences, conventions and large meetings, to exhibitions, trade shows and concerts.
Alan Taylor, IT manager at the SECC, said: ‘Over the past two years, we’ve seen an explosion in connected devices and mobile applications, adding to the interactivity and content of our events. Our delegates and visitors are increasingly expected to be ‘always-on’ so Wi-Fi is the big ask that people have when they come to venue.
‘Our visitors need to have seamless connectivity and online access at all times, whether it be for accessing event content on interactive apps on their smartphones, or keeping in touch with the office. In order to cope with this activity, we require a secure, fast wireless network that provides the best possible service to visitors,’ he continued.
The venue provides a wide range of conference, exhibition and concert facilities, which range from 22,000 square metres of flexible space throughout five halls, to the iconic Clyde Auditorium, a purpose-built 3,000 seat conference centre.
The solution had to provide seamless coverage across these spaces as delegates move from one to another. To address these issues the SECC installed 38 Xirrus Wireless Arrays to provide ubiquitous wireless access throughout the venue and the Armadillo.
Xirrus was deemed the only vendor that could provide high density, high capacity coverage, without the need to purchase as many access points as a traditional vendor’s solution would require.
‘Xirrus provided a great deal of consultancy, and were transparent and professional throughout the whole process,’ said Taylor. ‘We were impressed by Xirrus’ site survey, which was the most comprehensive we experienced. The end result was a predictive survey and detailed analysis report to ascertain the level of coverage required – we didn’t get this much insight from other providers.
‘The spaces we had to cover are pretty vast, so covering the full scale of the venue and different areas, this was a challenge that we looked to Xirrus to address. Other vendors were unable to provide the level of Wi-Fi expertise and pre-sales support that Xirrus did.
‘A great benefit to the unique design of the Wireless Arrays is that they minimise disruption when installing the technology within the venue, as you can run fibre directly through them if necessary. This also helps to reduce the level of infrastructure required in the halls.
‘The Xirrus arrays enable us to future-proof our investment, as they are designed to support the new 802.11ac standard, so if we want to upgrade, we can add or swap 802.11ac modules into existing chassis. This wouldn’t be possible with a traditional system and is particularly important in the events industry, where flexibility is a key value-add to our corporate customers and partners,’ Taylor added.
‘With many site visitors still using older smartphones, we wanted a system that would allow us to configure radios accordingly. The new infrastructure optimises the Wi-Fi connections for those older devices operating in the 2.4 GHz range, as well as the increasing number of those operating in the 5GHz range such as the new iPhone 5. This gives us power to be flexible during events, for example if organisers have high technical specifications, then we can switch the spectrum on the fly to suit relevant devices,’ said Taylor.
Sean Larner, VP of International Sales at Xirrus, said: ‘Over the past 18 months, events and exhibition visitors have come to regard reliable Wi-Fi connectivity as a given right. It’s therefore crucial for businesses within this space to provide a robust wireless network that can not only accommodate consumers’ bandwidth-heavy applications, but enable exhibitors to use rich-functionality apps to enhance the visitor experience at the SECC.’
Following on from the success of the initial implementation in March 2012, the SECC has also acquired Xirrus Wireless Arrays for its new music and events arena, The Hydro.
Designed by world-renowned architects Foster and Partners, and opening later this year, The Hydro will seat 12,000 and be the first purpose built concert venue of its scale. It will play host to around 140 events each year, including concerts, major comedy stars and sporting events. The SECC is starting to install the arrays over the next two to three months, with testing expected to commence in June.