Southampton Boatshow

  • 40 Acre Site
  • 10 Day Event
  • 110,000+ Visitors
  • 550+ Exhibitors
Southampton Boat Show
  • 850 concurrent devices
  • 10,820 unique devices
  • 35 VoIP Phones
  • 500Mbps Peak Usage

.

Due to the expected numbers of visitors the reliability of 3G/4G mobile phone service can have reliability issues

 

The following were the main requirements for the event specified in the brief.

  • The organiser needs reliable IT and Wi-Fi as well as well as phones in offices all around the site.
  • Guaranteed high speed connectivity for press and media
  • A video wall requiring stable connectivity for dynamic content running continuously for over two weeks
  • 100% up time connectivity at the main entrance to process and validate ticket sales
  • The organiser specified the ability for us to provide a variety of internet connections and services to the exhibitors.
  • The exhibitors need to be able to take electronic payments which, due to the lack of mobile and data infrastructure this has proved to be challenging in the past.
  • Free Guest Wi-Fi for every visitor.

Technical Situation

Each exhibitor has slightly different needs from their internet connection. This varies from checking international email to streaming live footage from across the globe – and everything in-between.

 

150 exhibitors were expected to order one of a variety of connections. We were expecting a minimum of 400 devices requiring a stable and reliable connection for the duration of the event.

Wi-Fi

We used ultra-high-speed wireless links to broadcast the 1Gbps Leased line to key points around the site thus allowing us to strategically distribute connectivity to provide coverage across the whole 40-acre site. We utilised multiple networks around the site to incorporate everyone’s needs from press, organisers, exhibitors and visitor’s requirements. Which ranged from 40Mb leased line delivered to a stand with full integrated cabling and comprehensive Wi-Fi infrastructure to a single PDQ machine on a stand for processing every payment.

Authentication

Using our tried and tested proprietary authentication system we can ensure every exhibitor gets exactly the connectivity they ordered and therefore the best service possible, we also use the same system for the free guest Wi-Fi again to ensure every one of the 110,000 visitors gets the best possible service.

One of the many challenges for this site was interference. Being located in the middle of major cruise port and the port to the Isle of Wight, there is a lot of commercial vessels operating in the waters near the show space, this means that there is a lot of high powered Radar and 5Ghz traffic around the site. The problem with Radar is it operates on some of the same frequencies as Wi-Fi, thus limited our options on site, by law if radar is detected our equipment will automatically shut down for 30 seconds. Something we had to ensure doesn’t happen for the integrity of the connectivity of the show. we deployed specialist equipment which uses different frequencies to ensure everything was interference free for all core links. The result being a completely uninterrupted connectivity for the whole month.

We favoured Wireless links to distribute connectivity around the site over fibre due to speed of deployment, severely increased reliability by eliminating the chance of cable breakages.

 

We created a unified Wi-Fi network across the site which was centrally managed.

This allowed us to manage the authentication of all the users and control how much data they used to provide the best service possible based on the package they had purchased. We used a branded captive portal that identified each user to their package, meaning one exhibitor only had one login for all their devices. This stops extra devices from affecting the network and therefore maintaining everyone’s quality of service. An added benefit of this form of authentication meant that users could also roam anywhere on site and still get the same connection. We segregated the networks, so the ticket gates, organisers, exhibitors and visitors could not affect each other. We did this to ensure ticket gate traffic was given the highest priority in the event of over subscription. Many exhibitors had specific bespoke requirements from cabling within their stands for devices to leased services for volume payments and quality of on stand hospitality.

Marina WiFi

Marina Wi-Fi

The requirement was to provide guest Wi-Fi and exhibitor services on the marina, a network of floating platforms where the boats dock to for viewing and boarding by potential buyers. One of the biggest challenges here is that the marina floats on the tidal waters of the Solent which at that time of year can see 20 metre potential swells meaning any cabling feeding the marina had to allow for huge and regular movement as well to be completely hidden from view, another challenge was the marinas size. The cable routes cannot exceed 100m in length before receiving a power source something that was in short supply for safety reasons due to proximity to the water’s surface which highlights the next challenge maintaining a clean install with no cables in view and keeping all kit free from the salt and water.

 

We achieved this by engineering water proof boxes we could mount on to the top of a pole which could be bolted in to a standard flag pole mount provided by the marina construction company. This gave us a clean look with cable management hidden within the pole itself and allowed the access point to be nice a high to provide the best possible wireless coverage.

Electronic Payments

attend2IT through our long-standing relationship with Wireless Terminal Solution who were the official supplier of PDQ machines. Exhibitors were given the choice of either renting 3G PDQ machines of Wi-Fi machines to ensure quality of service. We provided the Wi-Fi and handled the service for the Wi-Fi customers, this meant the exhibitor had an easier ordering and onsite experience, and we knew where the machines were to be used so we could ensure the required Wi-Fi infrastructure was in place prior to show days. This resulted in every electronic payment processed through our connection went through very quickly and trouble free

Guest Wifi

Similar to the Exhibitor network we used a branded splash page to both control logins of the guests and to use as a good opportunity to capture data for post event analytics and marketing. (prior to GDPR) We had to expect numbers in excess of 5,000 concurrent connections at any one time therefore the need to control the bandwidth to prevent guest devices taking more than needed was of great importance. We made certain traffic types and websites were blocked as well as a dynamic traffic management policy as to ensure the guest experience was the best possible