Kiwi-owned distributor Connector Systems could well have its eye on future sporting events, concerts and festivals after the network infrastructure at Lake Karapiro’s World Rowing Championships was hailed as "the best international sporting event for communications and IT” that media, athletes and the event’s organisers have ever attended.
Business Development Manager Jack Tan admitted that its network infrastructure buddy-up with Business Technology Group (BTG) and Cable and Data was a high-profile challenge given that the trio was awarded the contract just one month out from the grand opening ceremony. "Wireless and phones” was the extent of the brief given by World Rowing Championships organisers FISA, so with minimal direction, Tan and team set about building a network that could cater for a busy media centre capable of housing 200 journalists, an athlete’s village hosting rowing teams from 50 nations, plus up to 20,000 spectators a day, all wanting wireless web access on demand.
Prioritisation and security were top of the agenda and bandwidth was allocated across four different networks. "Each tent had its own VLAN, its own security profile. The media was our priority and they got 80% of bandwidth. Then it was the VIPs and the athletes,” said Tan. "I can tell you that half of the work was done eight hours before opening. We responded on the fly. Cater and then double it; that’s really the common rule for these events because you never know what’ll turn up.”
The solution installed consisted of: 50 IP phones, SIP switching, 20 Layer 2 switches (providing Gigabit connectivity throughout), two Layer 3 switches for the routing, 11 Ruckus wireless access points with two controllers, and a 30Gbps internet connection from FX networks. Cable and Data installed Molex cabling to provide fibre and copper connectivity throughout the site.
BTG’s Project Director Neil Dwight said he pulled resources from all over the country to get the job done in record time, securely configuring VLANs on Allied Telesis switches to ensure optimum security. "We ended up putting in 30% more infrastructure capacity than was originally planned,” said Dwight.
With Skype calling, Facebook, YouTube and TradeMe keeping the athletes entertained, together with journalists and photographers emailing, uploading photos and posting stories to the web from the media centre on the bank of the lake, the speed of the network was crucial to its success, said Tan. "Normally it takes 20mins to upload a 5MB file; it took me five minutes. These guys were blitzing through the high speed network. Telecom provisioned IDSN lines faster than I’ve ever seen before, within a week.”
The legacy infrastructure that remains at Lake Karapiro includes two powerful external Ruckus access. With a rumoured event budget of $16 million in total, organisers FISA appear keen to have impressed the world. Although reluctant to reveal how much the wireless network installation cost, Tan expressed confidence in the team’s ability to deliver high quality results. "It wasn’t a case of money making. It’s a temporary event, so there’s no point in installing the best thing since sliced bread, but you want something that’s reliable, not something that’s cheap.”