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Behind the Network @ Mobile World Congress 2014: Hotspot 2.0

Mobile World Congress (MWC) 2014 was the largest mobile industry exhibition in the world, where over 1800 companies showcased and launched their latest products and services. This event was visited by over 85,000 attendees from over 200 countries around the world, to learn, network, inspire and innovate. Providing them seamless and robust data network was the first priority. GSMA , Fira de Gran Via and Cisco took this challenge to provide them next generation Wi-Fi experience with seamless connectivity and onboarding using Hotspot 2.0 service on the top of baseline free Wi-Fi service.

Hassle and risk are the two key factors involved in connecting free public Wi-Fi. When you are traveling in the different countries, you get off the plane and turn on your cell phone… and within few seconds you get connected to the cellular network. There is no need to search for a suitable network manually (hoping it’s not rigged by a hacker), then enter long password or credit card details to pay for the service. But unfortunately connecting to Wi-Fi is not that simple. Hotspot 2.0 Service addresses these problems by automatic network discovery and selection, seamless network access and secured authentication for the Passpoint certified devices.

mwc1Fira Gran Via, Barcelona, the venue of MWC 2014 is a massive 280,000 meters2 (Three Million Square Feet) facility with 8 grand exhibition halls, conference rooms, multiple outdoor areas and restaurants. Read More »

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Behind the WiFi Network @ Mobile World Congress 2014: Site Surveys

In my last blog I discussed setting the stage in preparation for the Wi-Fi network for Mobile World Congress 2014 which supported more than 80k devices over a span of 4 days. Today I’ll talk about one of the many site surveys we conducted at the Fira Gran Via to ensure the success of our high density network.  Full details in the white paper here.

High Density Wi-Fi deployments and site surveys go hand in hand. Pre-installation and post-installation site surveys account for the most effective way to identify the contours of your RF coverage and eliminate potential multipath distortions, hidden nodes, and other coverage issues. Special attention was given to the large keynote auditorium halls in order to keep a check on the additional RF coverage needs to accommodate the high density of users packed in a very close range.

sitesurvey1

View of inside the Hall-4 Keynote Auditorium (23000 sq ft) before the Facebook keynote session

Site Survey analysis used to measure the RF coverage in Hall-4 keynote auditorium

Site Survey analysis used to measure the RF coverage in Hall-4 keynote auditorium

The Hall-4 auditorium was one example of such a high density area with the 2000 person capacity area had a peak connection of 1924 concurrently connected Wi-Fi devices distributed across 16 Cisco APs while the Facebook keynote was in progress, with a max load of 530 Mbps of internet traffic. To avoid an RF overlap, the ceiling mounted APs above the auditoriums were converted to monitor mode. Using the final pre-keynote site survey data, the RF profile for the Hall-4 auditorium was tweaked, and RRM automatically optimized the coverage to the desired degree by adjusting the Tx power levels. Read More »

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Behind the WiFi Network @ Mobile World Congress 2014: Setting the Stage

Every year a new attendance record is set at Mobile World Congress by networkers participating from over 200 countries across the globe. This grand attendance of industry-defining vendors, technology enthusiasts and exhibitors triggers an explosive growth in the number of Wi-Fi capable devices being brought to the event. For MWC 2014, Cisco partnered with Fira Gran Via and GSMA to pull off one of the most successful high density Wi-Fi network deployments in the history of global tech events. This blog kicks off a series to provide a glimpse of behind the network, into the design stages, and the course of actions undertaken to implement a robust high density wireless network which served more than 22,000 concurrently connected unique devices and a total of 80,880 devices throughout the event. Full details in whitepaper here.

Setting the Scene

Divided into eight massive exhibition halls, Fira Gran Via covers around 3 million square feet (280,000 square meters) of area which also includes outdoor areas, restaurants, conference rooms, network lounges and a continuous elevated walkway flowing through the entire venue. Higher the environmental complexity, the more fun and challenging it is to achieve the right wireless design for a pervasive network that meets all the needs.

An aerial view of Mobile World Congress 2014 arena at Fira Gran Via, Barcelona

An aerial view of Mobile World Congress 2014 arena at Fira Gran Via, Barcelona

Generally, the physical design of large convention and exhibition halls bear an impish knack of unfavorable conditions for a ubiquitous high density Wi-Fi network, owing mostly to the lofty ceiling heights and construction components. Read More »

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Achieving New Wi-Fi Heights

When it comes to the mobile internet at Cisco, there has been a great deal of coverage lately around the need for and advances in small cells to offer spectrum in places hard to get to from a cell tower, on ways to optimize the macrocell radios with SON capabilities, and even some ground breaking advances we’re doing with some of the world’s leading SPs on Hotspot 2.0 to enable a seamless mobile experience. In fact, this topic of Wi-Fi  deserves attention.  Not just because, according to Cisco Mobile VNI, by 2017 more traffic will be offloaded from the mobile network than will be on it, but also because it will be the primary way for many to get access to the network in the first place.  That was certainly the case a couple of weeks ago for many of the tens of thousands attending Mobile World Congress.

As the world’s mobility industry descended upon Barcelona for a week, a number of people (myself certainly included) wanted to avoid roaming data charges which could quickly add up – so we turned to Wi-Fi.  And this year, Cisco was proud to be able to help the staff of the Fira, the convention center which hosts MWC, deliver it free to all attendees, while offering Wi-Fi services to exhibitors.  The Fira selected Cisco Wi-Fi equipment last year,  and given the anticipated demand, we brought some of our experts to the event to help manage what ended up being one of, if not, the world’s largest single Wi-Fi deployment ever staged in a venue, even surpassing our stadium deployments during championship games.  Here are just a few of the stats that attendees and exhibitors generated: Read More »

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Observations from Mobile World Congress 2014

I have just returned from a very interesting and jammed-packed week at Mobile World Congress 2014 in Barcelona. More than 75,000 people were estimated to have attended this year’s MWC, and its fabulous new conference facilities proved a great place to celebrate the industry’s accomplishments and catch a glimpse of its potential future.  Much has changed in the industry over the last year since I reported my observations of MWC 2013.  However, what is most remarkable is how the boundaries of mobility continue to expand and morph – everything now seems to be mobile?

The following are my personal observations and extrapolations from the show, based on my conversations with operators, customer meetings, analysts, and colleagues, as well as from simply walking the show floor: Read More »

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