Australia venue to go hi-tech for fans’ ease



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Stadium Queensland choose Aruba for wifi experience Image: Stadium Queensland

Stadiums Queensland recently advised that it has chosen Aruba (California-based wireless networking subsidiary) to add technical teeth and make the Queensland Country Bank Stadium the most technically comprehensive stadium in Queensland (Australia) offering extremely fast, high-density Wi-Fi to patrons, with speeds of up to 100Mbps.

The ‘Australasian Leisure Management’ stated that the first design of its kind in an Australia stadium, the installation will see Stadiums Queensland and Aruba deliver an unmatched fan experience for supporters at the home of the Queensland Cowboys National Rugby League (NRL) team.

Stadiums Queensland (previously Major Sports Facilities Authority) was officially formed when an Act of Parliament, called the Major Sports Facilities Act 2001, was passed on December 1st 2001. Today, Stadiums Queensland owns and operates more than $1.2 billion worth of sporting and entertainment infrastructure.

The 25,000-capacity North Queensland Stadium, commercially known as Queensland Country Bank Stadium, is a multipurpose stadium in South Townsville, Queensland, Australia.

To facilitate the tech edge, over 600 access points have been deployed throughout the facility in an under-seat small cell wireless design ensuring visitors can upload, download and use apps without struggling to use mobile Internet in a full to the brim venue.

The ‘Australasian Leisure Management’ quoted Angela Henderson, Group Executive, Technology Services at Stadiums Queensland, as explaining that seamless connectivity is essential to ensure enriching customer experience, and advised, “Whether fans are watching our North Queensland Cowboys play or their favorite performer, we are offering a true VIP experience for our guests with a first-class Wi-Fi service offering, without the connectivity challenges often faced in a high-density stadium environment.”

Added Henderson, “In an extremely competitive events environment, offering sporting clubs and associations as well as concert promoters a venue that encourages fans to participate, engage and share their experiences in real-time using technology is crucial, especially in the far North regions of Queensland.”

Working closely with Aruba’s Large Public Venue (LPV) team, and with local Aruba technical resources, the successful implementation was completed just prior to the venue being shut due to the continued menace of coronavirus the world over. Since restrictions have eased, the venue’s team is online for major events and returned crowds in 2021.

Carlos Gómez Gallego, Chief Technology Officer of APJ, Aruba, a Hewlett Packard Enterprise company, noted, “Mobile devices are a key part of any live experience. By providing guests with the platform to view, locate, purchase, upgrade, share and upload in real-time, venues regardless of size can vastly improve visitor engagement. This collaboration with Queensland Country Bank Stadium has been fantastic, as each step of the journey has fit our customer-first, customer-last motto. Our large-scale and high-density deployment of access points throughout the venue ensures customers will have seamless connection wherever they go.”

Added Gallego, “Customer experience has always remained the priority from ideation to implementation and we look forward to hearing positive feedback from patrons over the coming years.”

Throughout the solution implementation, Aruba worked overtime to ensure the high-density public Wi-Fi did not alter the performance of corporate and media wireless networks.

Using Aruba Airwave – a management platform designed for on-premises environments which can also be integrated with contact tracing and location tracking capabilities and ClearPass – producing real-time policies for how users and devices connect and what they can access on the network, this has been vigorously tested with much success.

Gallego continued, “These access points were a mixture of both indoor and outdoor, ensuring that no matter the event, a user’s device was able to bring them into the action. The system allows for seamless connection to the network without compromising security. It scales and solves for changing event capacities as well as potential future expansion. A venue of this magnitude requires a scalable, full-featured management solution which supports visibility, control and the troubleshooting tools needed to manage the large-scale environment.”

Aruba’s implementation partner for this project was Communications Design & Management (CDM), a long-term provider of networking technologies to the Queensland Government.

Brett Kullman, General Manager for Queensland, at CDM, noted, “We wanted to give fans the ultimate wireless experience we could. At the same time, we needed to make sure the operational support teams could readily gain access to perform ongoing maintenance as mounting access points (APs) off the venue roof is very expensive and can be dangerous too.”

Added Kullman, “The optimal wireless signal meant placing APs under seats in a picocell design, which being the first of its kind for an Australian Stadium, presented multiple unique implementation challenges. Our team custom designed a rugged and weatherproof housing to withstand Queensland’s extreme weather, protect against food and beverage spillage, and would be easy for venue managers to access APs for future servicing. Throughout the project, our team worked alongside Aruba and Stadiums Queensland to ensure a smooth handover to stadiums’ operational team.”

Queensland Country Bank Stadium joins a list of venues around the world using Aruba technologies to bring guest experiences to new heights, including, Chase Centre in San Francisco, California, US, and Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London, England.

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