Cisco serves up wireless network for tennis stadium

Dubai Duty Free (DDF) is easing the workload of journalists attending this year’s international tennis tournaments and offering players an opportunity to relax between matches by surfing the internet through a wireless network solution from Cisco.

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By  Zoe Moleshead Published  February 26, 2003

Network service|~||~||~|Dubai Duty Free (DDF) is easing the workload of journalists attending this year’s international tennis tournaments and offering players an opportunity to relax between matches by surfing the internet through a wireless network solution from Cisco.

“The main thing is to make access easy for the media. We have 22 journalists attending this year, and we want to make sure they have all the services necessary to cover both tournaments without any problems,” says Salah Tahlak, marketing manager, DDF & tournament director for the Dubai Tennis Championships.

“In the past, they [journalists] would bring their notebooks into the press office, but they could not get internet access from their own machines. They would have to go on to one of the PCs, which were on the fixed network in the press office, and if they wanted to transfer information they would have to use a floppy disk,” explains Ramesh Cidambi, senior manager, systems & information technology, DDF.

To counter this problem and facilitate the journalists’ task of filing match reports, DDF has deployed Cisco’s Aironet wireless local area network (WLAN) solution in both the press office and the players’ lounge. Journalists and players are provided with network interface cards (NICs) to plug into their notebooks so they can access the internet.

“For the wireless solution, we have Cisco’s Aironet solution and we are using the 1200 Access Points and the 350 network cards — both PCMCIA and PCI for desktops and laptops,” says Ben Padda, assistant manager for technology & infrastructure, DDF.

“For the journalists it [wireless network] is a big advantage in terms of the ease of use and access to the internet. Many of the tennis matches finish at 10 or 11pm and they have to send their submissions to press… So we are trying to make it easier for them by not tying them to a desktop,” comments Cidambi.

Furthermore, the wireless network also extends into the tennis stadium itself to provide journalists with internet facilities while they are seated in the stand. “Journalists can sit in their seats, watch a match and have access to the web,” confirms Padda.

Additionally, DDF has deployed a fixed network to connect the ticket and press offices in a local area network (LAN). Cisco’s Catalyst 3550 and 2950 switches have been installed to provide access to file/print applications and ticketing information.

“The fixed network is based on Cisco’s 2950 48-port switch and that connects to the LAN, which is our box office up to the press office,” says Padda.

“For the box office we are providing connectivity to the ticketing software to print and book tickets, and for the press office we are providing internet access through ADSL using an Etisalat Business One connection,” he continues.

With the women’s tournament already underway at the time of going to press, DDF has been impressed with both the speed of deployment, smooth running of the network and relative simplicity of the Cisco solution.

“The fixed network took around a day or two to install and the wireless network took about the same time,” says Padda.

“It [the network] was very quick to implement. Everything worked as soon as it was installed and that is a rarity with technology these days,” comments Cidambi.

The solution was installed by a joint team from Dubai Duty Free and Cisco and will also be managed by both parties. While DDF will carry out the day to day network monitoring, Cisco’s team will be on hand to deal with any other problems that may arise.

“On our side we have a team of three people that will monitor the network on a daily basis and then we have a team from Cisco that we can call if we have any queries,” explains Padda.

DDF will also be using the in-built management functionality of the Cisco products to facilitate the running of the wireless and fixed networks and to determine which users are entering the network and when.

“We are using Cisco’s web interface that comes built into the switches and wireless access points. We have activated the web interface and can get information about who is authorised to access the network and who is attempting to access the network,” states Padda.

One issue that still remains undecided is what to do with the Cisco equipment once the two tennis tournaments are finished. One option is to move the solution to DDF’s office, alternatively the technology could remain at the stadium and Aviation Club to be utilised during other events.

“The stadium is used for many other events during the course of the year and it is a possibility that we will continue to provide this service to other users,” says Cidambi.||**||

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