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Wi-fi adding to spectator experience at Botswanan stadiums

Wi-fi adding to spectator experience at Botswanan stadiums

BoFiNet wanted to offer Botswanan fans a full experience at the 50th independence celebrations

Ruckus Inc was contracted by Botswana Fibre Networks (BoFiNet) to provide extensive wireless connectivity at two stadia that were used to celebrate the country’s Golden Jubilee Independence Day event. The project would normally take between three to five months to complete, but the teams on hand managed it in just three weeks.

It is almost expected that all visitors have some sort of Wi-Fi service in public locations such as stadiums.

BoFiNet wanted to offer Botswanan fans a full experience at the 50th independence celebrations and connectivity is a key part of this.

Therefore, BoFiNet wanted to offer Botswanan fans a full experience, with connectivity a key component of this.

Ruckus, through its reseller IT-IQ Botswana, was awarded the contract following an extensive tender process due to the quality of its solutions and its competitive pricing. While it would be focused around providing Wi-Fi access at the National Stadium in Gaborone (capacity 24,000) and the Francistown Stadium (capacity 27,000), for the jubilee celebrations, the system needed to be robust enough to use at future events.

“We saw this as an opportunity to expand our offering and provide stadium-wide coverage at both stadia,” said Mabua Lesego Mabua, CEO at BoFiNet.

“The solution provided was very effective and exceeded the expectations of the team from a performance, quality and throughout perspective.

“It has been converted into a commercial Wi-fi hotspot, allowing all visitors to benefit from the investment made.

“The system is also being used for ad-hoc events as needed.”

BoFiNet required a wireless solution that could not only provide exceptional coverage, but at high quality with a good throughput and ability to stream the celebrations from the stadia.

Access had to be supported across different operating systems reflecting the diversity of the devices used among attendees.

Vishvas Sethi, managing director for IT-IQ Botswana, explained that, because there was no incumbent, it provided the companies with the perfect opportunity to provide a green field solution that would give users the coverage and access they were looking for.

“We worked closely with Ruckus and the customer to ensure that all the relevant hardware software and operational support for the provision of Wi-Fi services were put in place and operated as smoothly as possible during the three-day celebration event,” said Sethi.

For the stadium in Gaborone, IT-IQ deployed two centralised Ruckus ZoneDirector controllers, five indoor Ruckus ZoneFlex R500 access points and 50 ZoneFlex T301 outdoor access points. Francistown had four Zone Flex R500 indoor access points and 40 ZoneFlex T301 outdoor access points.

The combination of these Ruckus products – boasting BeamFlex – was designed for easy installation within an ultra-lightweight and low profile enclosure – ideal for venue owners and enterprises looking to deploy Wi-Fi in high-capacity environments. The solution also provided the robustness required to deal with the demanding nature of the capacity demands during the celebration weekend and more importantly, for future requirements.

Ruckus and IT-IQ adopted a segmented approach to getting the coverage in place for the two stadia ensuring they met the requirements of 100% coverage across the grand stands and VIP sections with high concurrency and 30% capacity in general standing areas.

“It is a testament to the commitment of both teams that the project was completed in an incredibly short time frame,” added Sethi.

“A contract of this scale would normally take anything from three to five months to complete. Our teams did it in three weeks.”

Good project management skills were key to the success of the implementation and a team that was prepared to work around the clock to get it done.

In addition to a few material shortages due to the limited timeframe and power concerns at the stadia, the project teams had to contend working around physical stadium barriers such as scaffolding and other hard to get to areas. Stadiums and arenas are among the most difficult locations imaginable to deploy Wi-Fi networks because of the requirement for both very high performance and very high density.

“The installation process was very challenging in terms of terrain, access and location where access points (Aps) were needed to be installed for optimal Wi-Fi coverage,” added Mabua.

“The site’s physical barriers were the biggest challenge – requiring innovating thinking to create workloads.

“Scaffolding was not an option, so cranes were used to provide the platform for installation because this was the most efficient way to achieve results.

“We had confidence in the installation partner (IT0IQ) and the timelines were clear at the start of the project.

“Emphasis was placed on meeting the deadline and where needed, decisions were made quickly to facilitate progress.

“The system has complete backward compatibility and legacy device support.

“The management system and analytics show that all device types and operating systems are able to use the service successfully.”

Such was the strength and quality of the Ruckus solutions, Gaborone had a peak concurrent usage of 2,266 devices with 5,690 unique users while Francistown peaked at 1,136 devices and 2,528 unique users. The former reached a peak bandwidth of 200Mbps while the latter attained 120Mbps.

“The Ruckus project outperformed expectations with the team highly supportive from both commercial and technical perspective,” said Mabua.

“We were impressed with their focus and willingness to go the extra mile to ensure the Wi-Fi- network not only works according to expectations, but exceeded them.”