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Fluke Networks help DWTC tackle rogue devices

Fluke Networks help DWTC tackle rogue devices

Case StudiesNetworking

Understand how DWTC recently upgraded its network and improved the visitor experience while keeping them connected.

As the region’s foremost destination for exhibition, conferences and events, the Dubai World Trade Centre (DWTC) requires the latest technology to ensure it is business as usual for the many exhibitors and visitors that it plays host to on an increasingly regular basis.

Since its inauguration in 1979, DWTC has played a critical role in the growth of international trade for the Middle East region. From the landmark 39-story Trade Centre Tower, to the region’s largest purpose-built complex for events and exhibitions, DWTC has become the epicenter for business tourism and events in the region. With an extensive range of advanced hi-tech solutions including stage design, audio visual production, telecommunications, multi-media services and complete Wi-Fi network connectivity, the dedicated DWTC team provides specialized event service concepts and implementation support for visitors.

Over that time the face of technology has changed dramatically and the expectations the hundreds of thousand of visitor each year have also become more demanding. We now expect to be able to communicate through our many mobile devices wherever we happen to be.

DWTC recently deployed a complete Wi-Fi network for all of its guests that deliver vital services such as Internet access. Wi-Fi is now a critical service for most tradeshows, events or exhibitions. To meet these needs DWTC offers a complete set of services so customers can stay connected, access content or pull data for demonstrations. With this added connectivity come increased complexities and a need to closely monitor performance to ensure quality. A key impact to performance on a wireless network is competing devices on the same channel or band, and when not authorized, these rogue devices (commonly APs) can significantly degrade performance.

“Delivering a wireless network that meets all expectations of our users is a challenge from an IT perspective. At the Dubai World Trade Centre we have leading companies from more than 160 countries attending high profile events at our venue and we need our network to perform at a consistently high level,” said Farid Farouq, VP – IT at the Dubai World Trade Centre. “To ensure that, we must put policies in place to regulate the air. Unfortunately, people don’t follow those policies, and often deploy their own APs. This makes it difficult to manage a wireless network that meets the expectations of the entire user base. A handful of rogue APs can essentially affect performance for everyone.”

DWTC focused on combating this issue (and alleviating interference from other sources, like Bluetooth) by changing the wireless network from the previous 2.4Ghz band and moving to a dedicated 5Ghz band in order to remedy the issue of visitors deploying proprietary access points (APs), which interfered with the existing wireless infrastructure and subsequently affected the quality and performance. They also required all exhibitors to sign a usage policy that restricted them from deploying any device in the 5Ghz band without a user license. Although users were informed not to deploy technology on this band, there were still cases where they were deploying APs in the 5GHz band. To help prevent this problem, the IT staff needed a solution that could help them quickly identify rogue APs and enforce policy.

“Although we could see a drop in performance, it was technically challenging to isolate it. We had a wireless sensor system in place, but due to the high ceilings, the sensors were inaccurate in pinpointing rogue devices,” Farid said. “We’d have to send engineers onto the floor to search for the APs by looking through the show floor, which was incredibly time consuming. We needed a solution that could help us close the loop and ensure quality performance.”

To meet their challenges, the DWTC selected Fluke Networks’ AirCheck Wi-Fi Tester. It gave them the ability to quickly identify and locate rogue devices and APs. The dedicated handheld tester allows engineers to quickly determine if a device is authorized or rogue, and its intuitive design made it simple to use and learn. It also has a variety of additional features including a one-button Auto-Test for pass/fail identification of the wireless environment, and delivers an instant view into test results around network availability, connectivity, utilization, security settings, rogues and interference. “We must put policies in place to regulate the air. The AirCheck tester is that mechanism. Without it, the quality of service delivered to our customers was not going to be optimal,” Farid said.

With many of the venues show’s becoming increasingly crowded, the AirCheck also proved to be extremely mobile and the engineering team found it extremely easy to use and carry around the exhibition floor. AirCheck allows them to quickly locate rogue APs,. DWTC currently has six Testers for their team to use and they are a crucial part of the process. The bottom line: before using the AirCheck tester, it was a challenge to enforce the Wi-Fi policies. This had an impact on the DWTC’s ability to deliver consistent Wi-Fi services to users. Now it takes between 5-15 minutes to identify and isolate a rogue AP, and the team can ensure the quality of their service to users.

“Delivering a wireless network that meets the expectations of our users is one of the largest challenges we face from an IT perspective. The tester is the key to enforcing our policies around the service so we can ensure high performance for all users. Without this tester, rogue APs may be deployed which will significantly impact the service and is not acceptable in today’s Wi-Fi driven environment.” – Farid Farouq, VP – IT, Dubai World Trade Centre.

“We have an entire process in place now to ensure the successful delivery of our services. From the design of the network, to delivering the services, to establishing a usage policy, and now to actually enforcing that policy,” Farid said. “AirCheck has assisted us in closing the loop and gives our team confidence that we can ensure quality of service.”
For large shows, DWTC often has all six testers in use on the floor. “It saves us a ton of time,” Farid said. “When a team member detects a rogue AP, they call the lead engineer and he/she visits the booth to resolve the issues.”

In the end, the AirCheck tester served as a mission critical tool for the DWTC. It allows them to enforce their Wi-Fi usage policy and quickly identify and remediate issues with rogue APs. “We’re seeing a dramatic decrease in rogues now that people understand the system. That is due to the AirCheck,” Farid concluded.

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