By Claus Hetting, Wi-Fi NOW CEO & Chairman
Convergence comes in many forms – and one of the most promising right now involves aggregating Wi-Fi, LTE, 5G, and Ethernet backhaul to deliver the best in high-density Wi-Fi for conferences and other events. UK-based Event WiFi is pioneering the solution together with technology provider Peplink. The solution was successfully deployed and demonstrated towards hundreds of attendees at WWC Brighton in May.
High-performance Wi-Fi for events can be challenging and often existing Wi-Fi installations – for example at a hotel or conference centre – are not nearly good enough to accommodate a high density of heavy Wi-Fi users. One of the challenges is procuring enough backhaul bandwidth – or even simply getting access to backhaul in the first place, which can be non-existent or prohibitively expensive at some hotels.
Enter UK-based event connectivity provider Event WiFi and pioneering equipment supplier Peplink. Event WiFi used Peplink technology to aggregate backhaul from LTE, 5G, and existing Wi-Fi networks. The result was delivery of world-class event Wi-Fi at WWC Brighton in May.
“We’ve found that probably the most effective ways of ensuring high-quality Wi-Fi for events is making use of all – or most of – the backhaul available at the venue and then aggregate it. The end result is better and much more robust Wi-Fi services for event participants – in addition the system is easy and fast to deploy,” says Adam Steadman, CEO of Event WiFi.
At WWC Brighton Adam Steadman made use of Peplink’s ‘SpeedFusion’ solution including hardware with multiple connectivity options integrated. The solution has two modes: Either cellular, Wi-Fi, and Ethernet backhaul can be bonded (aggregated) together for higher speeds or backhaul tributaries can be aggregated and ‘smoothed’ for better resilience and reliability, Adam Steadman says.
“Depending on exact conditions one or the other approach is very useful for boosting event Wi-Fi quality. We can even provide the solution as a box for self-installation that includes the Wi-Fi 6 AP and battery backup if needed,” he says. The solution was verified and used extensively for three days of conferencing and hundreds of connected attendees at WWC Brighton.
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“The solution is highly adaptable in that you can also use for example Starlink terminals as sources of backhaul – and you can aggregate several cellular or many satellite links. The technology was originally designed for use in transport such as metro rail systems but has turned out to be highly valuable for events and other applications,” Adam Steadman says.
Event WiFi also advocates using Peplink’s ‘FusionSIM’ technology which allows – for example – an event Wi-Fi operator to provision and manage SIM-cards remotely so as to choose the cellular operator with the best coverage and service at the specific event location. FusionSIM can be used together with the SpeedFusion solution, Event WiFi says.