Kitting out the countryside

12 April 2019

The Royal Norfolk Agricultural Association (RNAA) is a registered charity dedicated to promoting the image, understanding and prosperity of agriculture and the countryside. In order to achieve this, it hosts the Royal Norfolk Show - the county’s annual two-day agricultural event.

Unlike in the good old days when the most cutting edge piece of kit at these events were cameras, today people are equipped with some of the smartest devices on the market. That means internet connectivity is a basic necessity.

However, with limited infrastructure in place, to provide wireless access for corporate connectivity on a day-to-day basis as well as guest access, the RNAA realised it was in need of a completely new system. The shows require connectivity for both wired and wireless devices, that need to be controlled and on-boarded in a secure and simple to manage way. Areas where wireless coverage is required for the shows are predominantly in the main arena, which can have footfall of up to 50,000 people per day.

From an RF perspective this could cause a number of issues with interference, channel planning and capacity so the RNAA called DigitalAir Wireless for help.

The first stage, or “plan phase”, was to conduct a wireless RF survey and develop a physical network design. This provided physical access point locations, detailed information on the mounting of the access points as well as annotated photos.

Moving into the “design phase”, DigitalAir provided a low-level design document which detailed the necessary information for the integration of the new network with the RNAA’s existing infrastructure. This encompassed how DigitalAir was going to configure both the WLAN and the guest onboarding solution, as well as aspects of the LAN in order to integrate the system seamlessly.

The recommended solution was based on the Ruckus high capacity access point models which where R710, R510 and the T301n, with the Ruckus T301n access points being deployed to the Arena.

By using these APs and making use of the Ruckus T301n’s internal 30-degree sector antennas to create small contention areas, it minimised cochannel interference from neighbouring APs and provided a managed area of RF for devices to connect to. The network, on a cloud-based architecture, was commissioned to the standard of the pre-approved LLD.

The network has now been utilised for a number of RNAA’s high profile shows with great success. The Ruckus Networks system has exceeded the coverage and capacity expectations, whilst the guest platform has remained flexible to the demands of each show.