The Eurovision song contest might not be everyone's cup of tea. But with a lot of reporters all looking to upload and download vital information with key response times whilst attending the event, a secure, robust, fast, and reliable WIFI solution was of paramount importance to the hosts. Crucially, for those implementing the solution, DB channel partners HP were chosen. Here's a look at how it was done:
HP Networking WLAN powers Eurovision Song Contest 2014
Over 6,000 concurrent users posted videos and tweets without a single failure
“One of the success criteria for this project is that we had no bad press—with 180 million viewers and many journalists reporting on this high‑profile event, no one said that they couldn’t get to the Internet. So we are really happy about the result.” –Kristian Krautwald, Director of Sales, TDC/NetDesign
The Eurovision Song Contest (ESC) is one of the largest and popular song contests in the world. Over 180 million viewers watch the final performances of the competition. The venue is based on the previous winner’s home. This year, Copenhagen, Denmark was chosen as the host city for the event and over 30,000 people attended the final three performances.
ESC contracted TDC/NetDesign to install the network infrastructure for the event. TDC was a Cisco-only partner for networking. HP approached TDC with a unified wired and wireless LAN solution that demonstrated simpler design and best price/performance compared to competitive solution. The HP local team support and differentiated solution resulted in winning TDC’s trust to make HP the vendor of choice for ESC 2014. “ESC asked us to have a really robust and fast moving network. And we did that with Wi-Fi from HP.” Kristian Krautwald, Director of Sales, TDC/NetDesign
Provide Wi-Fi access with high-density requirements to support 30,000+ fans, press, and delegates attending Eurovision Song Contest 2014 in Denmark.
Implement HP Networking’s complete unified wired and wireless LAN (UWW) solution and support services from HP Technology Services.
- Design and install a unified wired and wireless LAN solution to support a very high-density environment
- Provide a highly reliable network with redundancy and load balancing—no weak spots or single pointof failure through HP IRF technology
- Manage the network with a single-pane-of-glass management platform—HP Intelligent Management Center (IMC)
- Offload to HP Technology Services to troubleshoot and monitor during the show
- Gain the trust of a large integration partner to select HP WLAN for this high profile event
- Deliver high availability guest services via reliable, and scalable unified wired and wireless network
- Provide uninterrupted Internet access to more than 6,000 concurrent users using bandwidth of 250 Mbps
Demands on the network
The requirement for this event was a network design that could support over 12,000 viewers per performance. The mix of attendees was 1,000 journalists, 7,000 foreign guests, and 5,000 other viewers that were expected to get on to Wi-Fi simultaneously. The press center required wired connections in addition to wireless LAN. The area that required Wi-Fi coverage was over 27,000 square meters (16,000 square meters was the tent camp built around the arenas and concert hall and it included all the areas for the supporting functions of the event. The concert hall alone was 9,300 square meters)
Meeting the challenge
One of the biggest challenges faced was the venue for the event. B&W Hallerna in Copenhagen used to be a shipyard and it needed to undergo significant construction to be able to host the three state-of-the-art television shows planned for the finals. This shipyard was bare and had nothing in it. The construction of the arena started less than a year before the event and it was built with concrete walls. The seating area was designed with wooden floors initially, but the construction company changed plans and instead installed aluminum and steel floors. This complicated the RF design, because the Access Points (APs) were going to be mounted underneath the seating structure. With this change from wood to aluminum/steel, HP and TDC were forced to change the RF design at the last minute to have the APs installed on gates that ran across the rows where the audience was seated.
Deploying a high-density network in record time
The arena was built with tents and APs were mounted on the roof. Because of the open space and the high AP density, they were installed in some special boxes with radio absorbing foam to control the RF pattern and help eliminate overlap between APs.
The network was designed to handle very high-density, and offer connectivity for up to 6,000 concurrent users using various mobile devices. TDC built mobile antennas inside the arena. These mobile antennas were tested heavily to make sure they did not crash when thousands of users accessed the network. TDC designed it to ensure that all the data offloading from the mobile antennas had to go through Wi-Fi. “With 30,000 people attending the show and using their mobile phones and tablets to access Facebook, Twitter, and other social media platforms, there were numerous spikes expected to take place. The network design with the HP WLAN solution accommodated that and provided 80 percent coverage,” Krautwald says. TDC also engaged with HP Technology Services for implementation and the ongoing monitoring of the network.
To cover the whole arena, TDC installed 232 HP 425 Access Points with 39 external antennas. For the event, they installed two HP 7506 core switches with redundant management modules in each chassis and configured as IRF node. For the wireless network, TDC installed two unified wireless controllers that were used in a 1+1 high‑availability configuration to allow sub‑second failover. For the total venue (over 27,000 square meters), there were 18 wiring closets each with a HP 2920 48G/PoE+ switches built and connected to the IRF node by redundant 10G fiber. The entire installation was managed and monitored by the Intelligent Management Center (IMC) and Wireless Services Manager (WSM).
To allow increased user densities, smaller cell sizes were used with minimal channel overlap to reduce co-channel interference. Cell sizes were kept the same for both the 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz frequency bands to simplify management.
High-density features such as transmit power control helped reduce gaps in coverage while airtime fairness enabled equal RF transmission times for 802.11a/b/g and n devices, improving the overall capacity and performance of the wireless network. This project took 25 days to complete and was a record time to support a highly visible event like this.
“ ESC asked us to have a really robust and fast moving network. And we did that with Wi-Fi from HP.” – Kristian Krautwald, Director of Sales, TDC/NetDesign
Monitoring network activity
The HP IMC with HP WSM tool enables unified access, security, and management of the entire network. This single-pane-of-glass management tool showed the ESC arena’s network administrators which devices were accessing the network. It also had the ability to provide controlled access for those who could pose a security threat (Android devices prone to malware), or those who were abusing the network bandwidth. The IMC network reports showed that there was an average of 6,000 simultaneous users connected to the system per show, generating 80 GB of traffic per hour. The maximum bandwidth for the public Wi-Fi was 49 GB per hour during the show for the audience’s Internet access.
The success of no “bad press”
The HP solution delivered highly reliable Wi-Fi to the three final performances and fans, press, and delegates accessed the Internet without a glitch.
“ One of the success criteria for this project is that we had no bad press—with 180 million viewers and many journalists reporting on this high-profile event, and no one said that they couldn’t access the Internet. So we are really happy about the result.” – Kristian Krautwald, Director of Sales, TDC/NetDesign
Customer at a glance
- 7500 switches IRF stack with 10G uplink to wiring closet
- HP 10500/7500 20G Unified Wired-WLAN Modules Mod
- HP 2920-48G-PoE 10G switches
- HP MSM 425 Access Points
- HP Indoor-Outdoor Narrow Sector External Antennas
- HP Intelligent Management Center with Wireless Services Manager
- HP Professional Technical Services