In a long election season, one of the events that grabbed a lot of public attention were the Presidential debates between Democratic Candidate Hillary Clinton and Republican Candidate Donald Trump. As you may already know, Cisco provided the wireless network infrastructure for the first debate, held at Hofstra University in Hempstead, NY. Cisco wireless networks were also deployed at the sites of the second and third Presidential debates as well as the Vice Presidential debate too.





The second debate was held on Sunday, October 9 at Washington University in St. Louis, MO (WashU). An army of access points (AP) made up of the Cisco Aironet 3600 and 3700 Series APs were installed in the debate hall. Traffic rose and fell throughout the evening, but according to network data, devices during peak times the Cisco infrastructure handled 1825 unique wireless devices and 219 wired.

Cisco engineers designed the infrastructure to have four SSIDs. They also split the Wi-Fi into two distinct offerings: one for users in the actual debate hall and one for the assembled press in the media hall. The media hall had over 2,000 journalist from dozens of countries filing stories, so it was important that the bandwidth was robust and clear.

WU aggregate


The graphs above depict the aggregate amount of internet usage during the week of the debate at WashU. You’ll notice that there is a small bump on October 9, but there was plenty of bandwidth left for more to be used. The second graph shows the aggregate bandwidth usage for the day of the debate. As expected, the bandwidth usage spiked during the debate.

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The third debate was held ten days later at the University of Nevada Las Vegas’ Thomas and Mack Center on Wednesday, October 19. Over 150 Cisco Aironet 3700 Access Points were deployed to handle the 1,100 users and over 2,200 devices.

Like the previous debates, he UNLV administrators created two different networks for the event: one for the debate hall and the other for the media–in all 35 different locations were supported. The media gathered at the Cox Pavillion directly adjacent to the Thomas and Mack Center.

In addition to the media wireless network, the 10 television networks covering the debate were also given their own wireless network to connect to. This was done so that all media were able to get their stories to their viewers and readers without any issues—in fact there were over 7,200 photos uploaded over the network during the event.

Both the WashU and UNLV network designers made the decision to run their networks on the 5GHz bands instead of over both 5GHz and 2.4GHz. The reason? Hofstra ran both and observed that there was was a lot of interference on the 2.4GHz band due to a prevalence of personal hotspot devices.

With security being a high priority, the WashU and UNLV networks were armed with a variety of Cisco solutions, including: Cisco Firepower NGFW appliances and the Cisco Identity Services Engine.

The Vice Presidential debate between Tim Kaine and Mike Pence was held on Tuesday, October 4, at Longwood University in Farmville, VA.

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Byron Magrane

Product Manager, Marketing