Ruckus Wireless provides Wi-Fi connectivity to Botswanan stadia

Botswana Fibre Networks (BoFiNet), a provider of more than 9 000km of fibre throughout the country, has contracted Ruckus Wireless, Inc. to provide extensive wireless connectivity at two stadia that were used to celebrate the country’s Golden Jubilee Independence Day event.

Says Mabua Lesego Mabua, CEO at BoFiNet: “We want to offer Batswana fans a full experience and connectivity is a critical component of this. We therefore saw this as an opportunity to expand our offering and provide stadium-wide coverage at both stadia.”

Ruckus, through its reseller IT-IQ Botswana, was awarded the contract following an extensive tender process due to the quality of its solutions and its competitive pricing. While it would be focused around providing Wi-Fi access at the National Stadium in Gaborone (24 000 capacity) and the Francistown Stadium (27 000), for the jubilee celebrations that took place in September, the system needed to be robust enough to use at future events.

“BoFiNet required a wireless solution that could not only provide exceptional coverage but do so at high quality with a good throughput and ability to stream the celebrations from the stadia. Additionally, access had to be supported across different operating systems reflecting the diversity of the devices used amongst attendees,” says Riaan Graham, sales director for Ruckus Wireless sub-Saharan Africa.

Vishvas Sethi, managing director for IT-IQ Botswana, says that because there was no incumbent, it provided the companies with the perfect opportunity to provide a green field solution that would give users the coverage and access they were looking for.

“We worked closely with Ruckus and the customer to ensure that all the relevant hardware software, and operational support for the provision of Wi-Fi services were put in place and operated as smoothly as possible during the three-day celebration event,” says Sethi.

For the stadium in Gaborone, IT-IQ deployed two centralised Ruckus ZoneDirector controllers, five indoor Ruckus ZoneFlex R500 access points, and 50 ZoneFlex T301 outdoor access points. Francistown had four Zone Flex R500 indoor access points and 40 ZoneFlex T301 outdoor access points.

The combination of these Ruckus products – boasting BeamFlex - was designed for easy installation within an ultra-lightweight and low profile enclosure - ideal for venue owners and enterprises looking to deploy Wi-Fi in high-capacity environments. The solution also provided the robustness required to deal with the demanding nature of the capacity demands during the celebration weekend and more importantly, for future requirements.

Ruckus and IT-IQ adopted a segmented approach to getting the coverage in place for the two stadia ensuring they met the requirements of 100% coverage across the grand stands and VIP sections with high concurrency and 30% capacity in general standing areas.

“It is a testament to the commitment of both teams that the project was completed in an incredibly short time frame. A contract of this scale would normally take anything from three to five months to complete. Our teams did it in three weeks,” says Sethi.

Good project management skills were key to the success of the implementation and a team that was prepared to work around the clock to get it done.

In addition to a few material shortages due to the limited timeframe and power concerns at the stadia, the project teams had to contend to working around physical stadium barriers such as scaffolding and other hard to get to areas. Stadiums and arenas are amongst the most difficult locations imaginable to deploy Wi-Fi networks because of the requirement for both very high performance and very high density.

“However, this is just a result of the nature of the stadium environment. Despite the challenges, the team was focused on ensuring the project would be a success,” says Sethi.

Such was the strength and quality of the Ruckus solutions, that Gaborone had a peak concurrent usage of 2,266 devices with 5,690 unique users while Francistown peaked at 1,136 devices and 2,528 unique users. The former reached a peak bandwidth of 200Mbps while the latter attained 120Mbps.

“The Ruckus project outperformed expectations with the team highly supportive from both commercial and technical perspectives. We were impressed with their focus and willingness to go the extra mile to ensure the Wi-Fi- network not only works according to expectations, but exceeded them,” says Mabua.


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