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Wednesday, 17 March 2021 09:14

Townsville stadium ready for crowds with 'Australian first' picocell Wi-Fi

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HPE's networking subsidiary Aruba has supplied Stadium Queensland's Queensland Country Bank Stadium (QCBS) with an under-seat picocell wireless network.

The QCBS installation involves more than 600 wireless access points mounted under seats around the stadium. According to Aruba, this is the first time this design has been used in an Australian stadium.

The network provides patrons with Wi-Fi speeds up to 100Mbps, at no extra charge.

It was completed just before the Townsville venue was closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but is ready for major events and returned crowds in 2021.

Aruba APJ CTO Carlos Gómez Gallego said "Mobile devices are a key part of any live experience. By providing guests with the platform to view, locate, purchase, upgrade, share and upload in real-time, venues regardless of size can vastly improve visitor engagement.

"This collaboration with Queensland Country Bank Stadium has been fantastic, as each step of the journey has fit our customer-first, customer-last motto. Our large-scale and high density deployment of access points throughout the venue ensures customers will have seamless connection wherever they go."

Aruba ensured that the new system did not alter the performance of corporate and media wireless networks.

And the Aruba Airwave management platform can be integrated with contact tracing and location tracking capabilities.

Stadiums Queensland  group executive for technology services Angela Henderson said "Whether fans are watching our North Queensland Cowboys play or their favourite performer, we are offering a true VIP experience for our guests with a first-class Wi-Fi service offering, without the connectivity challenges often faced in a high-density stadium environment.

"In an extremely competitive events environment, offering sporting clubs and associations as well as concert promoters a venue that encourages fans to participate, engage and share their experiences in real-time using technology is crucial, especially in the far north regions of Queensland."

Aruba AP in stadium

The local implementation partner was Communications Design & Management (CDM).

CDM general manager for Queensland Brett Kullman said: "We wanted to give fans the ultimate wireless experience we could. At the same time we needed to make sure the operational support teams could readily gain access to perform ongoing maintenance as mounting APs [access points] off the venue roof is very expensive and can be dangerous too."

"The optimal wireless signal meant placing APs under seats in a picocell design, which being the first of its kind for an Australian stadium, presented multiple unique implementation challenges. Our team custom designed a rugged and weatherproof housing to withstand Queensland's extreme weather, protect against food and beverage spillage, and would be easy for venue managers to access AP's for future servicing.

"Throughout the project, our team worked alongside Aruba and Stadiums Queensland to ensure a smooth handover to Stadiums' operational team."

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Stephen Withers

Stephen Withers is one of Australia¹s most experienced IT journalists, having begun his career in the days of 8-bit 'microcomputers'. He covers the gamut from gadgets to enterprise systems. In previous lives he has been an academic, a systems programmer, an IT support manager, and an online services manager. Stephen holds an honours degree in Management Sciences and a PhD in Industrial and Business Studies.

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