Extricom large-scale Wi-Fi platform installed in Europe's largest indoor public arena

Extricom's blanket Wi-Fi network platform installed at the UK's Manchester Evening News Arena.

Extricom, a designer and manufacturer of high-performance, next generation wireless LAN (WLAN) infrastructure systems, announced its collaboration with sports and entertainment venue operator SMG Europe and On-Communications to install a large-scale Wi-Fi network platform for the UK's Manchester Evening News Arena, cited as the largest indoor concert arena in Europe. Ticket holders and performers will now be able to access seamless high speed Wi-Fi networking using Extricom's proprietary "blanket wireless" technology, which is to span across all public areas plus the back stage and loading areas of the area.

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Steve Merrick, On-Communications technical director, had the following comments to offer on the Wi-Fi deployment, and Extricom's role in its installation:

"Working with SMG Europe, the M.E.N Arena's operators, it was clear that there were a number of stakeholders who would need access to and use of the Wi-Fi network. Installing and enabling such a network in a venue as large as the M.E.N Arena, with multiple floors, concrete walls and very large audience numbers is a challenging exercise. It quickly became clear that only one manufacturer was able to meet all the technical requirements of the project. Extricom was the only system that offered guaranteed, seamless mobility without co-channel interference or holes in the coverage. Extricom's channel blanket architecture delivers a continuous service to very high numbers of simultaneous users with no loss of bandwidth or throughput. The Extricom service guarantee, along with the minimal ongoing maintenance the solution requires made them the natural choice for us. The build required over sixty Wi-Fi access points, thirty range extenders and half a dozen switches. Connecting them all up took more than three kilometers of fibre, five kilometres of Cat5 cabling and various networking and routing devices. The infrastructure means the Wi-Fi network can be accessed at every level of the M.E.N Arena bowl, around the concourses, throughout the executive suites, back stage, dressing rooms and loading bay areas of the venue. Both download and upload speeds to WiFi enabled mobiles and hand held devices are an impressive double digit Mb/s throughout. We have bought dual and diversely routed Internet feeds into the arena, one via fibre, the other using fixed wireless access, meaning we can light up to 130Mb of Internet access if required and more can be added later if required. Additionally, we are planning to run some services and applications over the Wi-Fi network locally. We are releasing Wi-Fi network access in stages, first to promoters and performers, then to ticketholders and finally for other user groups and applications."

Dave Batty, Facilities Manager at the M.E.N Arena, added, "We spent more than a year examining and specifying this project and we worked with On-Communications throughout that time. It was clear we shared the same values and had the same vision of how we could use communications technology to maintain the M.E.N Arena's reputation as a leading global venue for artists, shows, promoters and audiences. I'm delighted we have now gone live, with the first night being the WNBA's debut European match. I look forward to continuing our work with On-Communications, extending network access and adding exciting new services."

Extricom's Vice President Sales, International, Edu Meytal, concludes, "SMG and On-Communications have understood the need to be able to manage Wi-Fi airspace and have it operate like a seamless mobile network. The unique and patented Extricom solution is the only WLAN that offers completely seamless mobility and we're naturally delighted that our technology has been recognised as the product of choice to help SMG achieve its technology and communication goals not only now but for their future requirements too: Ultimately, Extricom delivers."

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