Hole in one

Golf in Dubai rolls out a new wireless network in record time

Tags: Golf in DubaiHuawei Technologies CompanyVisionaire Technology Group Inc (www.visionaire.com)
  • E-Mail
Hole in one The solution had to be set up in time for the Omega Dubai Desert Classic 2014.
By  Tom Paye Published  June 24, 2014

Golf in Dubai was set up in 2005 to promote the emirate as one of the world’s leading golfing destinations. Under its remit is the promotion and organisation of two European Tour events — the Omega Dubai Desert Classic and the Omega Dubai Ladies Masters. The two sporting competitions have a long history of success in Dubai, and responsibility for their continued success lies squarely with Golf in Dubai.

A lot contributes to the success of these tournaments. Naturally the presence of A-list golfing celebrities such as Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy is a major factor. However, a lot more goes into the tournament than flying over famous sportspeople. The course must be set up with facilities that can accommodate the thousands of visitors who attend the competitions every year; news crews broadcasting around the world must be given access to everything they need to do their jobs properly; and top-line sponsors entertaining clients need to be treated to perfection.

Unfortunately, for the past few years, Golf in Dubai has been wrestling with a niggling technological issue that was seriously hampering the satisfaction of players, sponsors and visitors. Indeed, it had the potential to cause wider business problems. The issue laid with the Wi-Fi service being provided at the tournament.

Business challenge
When it comes to hospitality, events and tourism, free Wi-Fi has become one of the most important things to any customer. Last year, Hotelier Middle East reported on IHG research that revealed that more 60% of people deem Wi-Fi to be the most important additional facility in their hotel rooms. And trends are moving the same way when it comes to large-scale events like the Omega Dubai Desert Classic.

Unfortunately, the infrastructure that Golf in Dubai was working with at Emirates Golf Club, the venue for the event, was less than adequate. Indeed, recognising that international players and corporate guests demanded high-quality Wi-Fi, the organisation’s IT team was causing itself plenty of stress simply by providing what it could.

“Not only were we providing Wi-Fi and Internet connectivity in the public areas, but also in hospitality, and it was completely decentralised. What had actually happened was our service provider would come in here and provide, in the old days, 10 Mbps. What they would also provide were devices that were meant for home use,” explains Sanjay Narula, head of IT at Golf in Dubai.

“There wasn’t a single hour where we did not have to go to an area within the complex and resolve problems. It was trouble for us, being the service provider, but it was also trouble and an irritation for my customers, which were the people who were actually visiting. You’ve got big names that come in here for the Omegas. These are people who are used to good connectivity, and when you’re not connected, it’s an irritant.”

As it is easy to imagine, working with consumer-grade networking gear was one of the largest problems. According to Narula, the golf club was using home routers such as Linksys devices and even Apple’s AirPort, which, while suitable for home use, become unstable at the enterprise level. The devices could only accommodate 10 to 12 users each, and because they were designed to be used in homes, had a very limited range, meaning only select areas of the golf club were covered. Added to this, the network would drop continuously, meaning that it had to be manually reset by either Narula or someone from his team.

Race against time
When it came to planning for the 2014 Omega Dubai Desert Classic, then, Narula had decided that enough was enough, and that a robust wireless infrastructure had to be put in place. Having consulted with its IT solution provider, VisionTech, Golf in Dubai invited Huawei to assess the site and provide recommendations on how to proceed.

There was one small issue, however. By this point, it was getting towards late-2013, and the Desert Classic tournament was scheduled to take place on January 27, 2014. This gave Golf in Dubai very little time to implement the solution, and it gave VisionTech and Huawei even less time to come up with a proof of concept. What’s more, this was set to be a special event — it would mark the 25th anniversary of the Dubai Desert Classic, meaning that everything had to be perfect.

“The timeframe was very limited,” Narula admits. “It had to be done by then. It was a very big event for us, even though we were taking a risk that it was a new solution that we were putting in.”

Not deterred, Huawei came up with a WLAN deployment that would cover three main areas — the Village (a public area for tournament spectators), the driving range and the putting range. Given the short timeframe, and limited budget, Golf in Dubai had elected to stick to areas that had been identified as the most densely populated during the tournament. Perhaps most importantly, however, the network solution would be centralised so that Narula and his team could manage the network more easily.

Add a Comment

Your display name This field is mandatory

Your e-mail address This field is mandatory (Your e-mail address won't be published)

Security code