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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.

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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.

As most of the modern wireless clients are thankfully dual band capable, it was not very surprising for the operations team to see more clients associating to the 5GHz network as compared to 2.4 GHz – this was also one of the signs which shows a healthy RF coverage for both bands across the venue. The wireless statistics pertaining the daily average and the total wireless traffic patterns recorded a massive 19.1 TB of wireless data transfer over the period of just 4 days.

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It was about 1PM local time on Tuesday 25th February, the second day of the show, when we struck the peak of 22126 simultaneously connected WiFi devices on the network. There were high five celebrations across the entire network operations team center. Everyone was thrilled; applauding at this never before seen figure for such an event.

Besides monitoring applications, internet traffic, user density and the infrastructure itself, the network operations team is always keen to know the reactions from the end users. Below are some of the reactions captured via Twitter which conveyed positive reception from the attendee’s pleasant Wi-Fi experience.

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Cisco is teaming up once again with FIRA and GSMA to catapult the Mobile World Congress 2015 Wi-Fi network to the next level, and this time with a full HDX Cisco 3700 Series Access Point deployment upgrade.

Check out some more twitter reactions and get a technical deep dive on how Cisco optimized the wireless network at MWC: Mobile World Congress 2014 – Behind the Wi-Fi Network whitepaper covers all the techniques for building a solid high density Wi-Fi network including RX-SOP, Beamforming, and Radio Resource Management. The next blog in this series will highlight the HotSpot 2.0 deployment at MWC.

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1 Comments.


  1. Great article, Shivesh.

    In 2012, I did the WiFi for the Ericsson Hall using BelAir gear. People don’t realize just how tough this is. You never know how much tweaking to do prior until the meetings are in full swing.

    Rog

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