Say 'Yas' to high speed WiFi

Abu Dhabi’s Yas Mall deploys 802.11ac Wi-Fi across its 2.5 million-square-foot property, providing guests with 1.3 Gbps connectivity

Tags: ALDAR PropertiesAruba NetworksRetailUnited Arab EmiratesWiFi
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Say 'Yas' to high speed WiFi Abu Dhabi's Yas Mall has deployed a new wireless network to serve shoppers.
By  Tom Paye Published  February 24, 2016

Yas Mall is a leading destination for shopping, dining and entertainment in Abu Dhabi, owned by Aldar. The 2.5 million-square-foot mall offers a range of leading international and regional retail and F&B brands, a 20 screen state-of-the-art cinema operated by VOX Cinemas and a family entertainment zone by Fun Works. With the opening of Yas Mall, Aldar became the largest owner and manager of retail space in Abu Dhabi.

Located at the heart of Yas Island, 20 minutes from downtown Abu Dhabi and just 10 minutes from the Abu Dhabi International airport, the mall serves as a gateway destination offering a retail experiences to local residents, tourists and international guests. The well-connected mall is accessible, easy to navigate and seeks to deliver proactive customer service. Offering fashion, entertainment and dining, all under one roof, Yas Mall serves as a contemporary destination of wide avenues, all leading to a spacious and light social hub, an urban oasis known as Town Square.

Recently, the mall deployed a fully integrated wireless networking solution from Aruba, a Hewlett Packard Enterprise company, including Access Points (APs), mobility controllers, guest management and reporting and monitoring tools to provide visitors secure, seamless, high-speed, wireless internet connectivity across the entirety of the mall’s property. The implementation, carried out by MDS Systems Integration, a UAE-based system integration partner of Aruba, has set up a platform for future deployment of new mobile engagement solutions.

Business challenge

Thousands of shoppers visiting Yas Mall depend on mobile apps to communicate, share their experiences on social media, and browse the internet. The mall also has an official app that offers information on stores, entertainment, events and other important details at the mall.

Customer satisfaction is at the heart of Yas Mall’s strategy and Feras Al Atari, IT manager atYas Mall, realised that, with the increasing usage of smartphones by shoppers, fast and easy access to Wi-Fi would be a significant contributor to a positive retail experience.

“Yas Mall is proud to welcome thousands of visitors every day and so consequentially it’s crucial that our bandwidth capacity can tender to all of the guests without disruptions. Through our advanced wireless services, Yas Mall delivers to its customers the ability to maintain seamless communications and share their experiences with their friends and family, and they can remain connected at all times,” says Al Atari.

The solution

To ensure that the wireless solution met the requirements of its customers, while also serving as a platform for future innovation, Al Atari and his team decided to leverage 802.11ac technology. In terms of which vendor to go with, Al Atari had identified Aruba Networks as a leader in this domain, and following a proof of concept, the vendor was a clear choice for the project. Ease of access and reliability were also major criteria for selection and Aruba’s solutions checked these boxes as well.

“Aruba is a market leader in providing wireless solutions and we were keen to partner with them in improving our customers’ experience,” Al Atari explains.

To support the high-density of simultaneous connections, Aruba’s ultra-fast 220-series 802.11ac APs were selected. For the mall, a standout feature of these APs was the in-built ClientMatch technology, which automatically shifts client devices to the best AP, giving users a consistently high quality of coverage as they roam through the expanse of the property.

With an area of over 2.5 million square feet, the incredibly large size of the mall meant it would be impractical for the IT team to manually set up, configure and maintain the Access Points (APs). And thanks to the mall’s impressively high daily visitor footfall, such manual intervention would no doubt cause inconvenience to shoppers. To overcome this, the team decided to utilize Aruba’s 7200 series Mobility Controller, which not only eliminates manual configuration of individual APs, but also automates software updates of all APs on the network.

Aruba’s AirWave Network Management platform was also implemented as it would give administrators detailed metrics and complete insight into the Wi-Fi network, thus allowing them to proactively plan for capacity, visualise client performance and troubleshoot application issues.

Business benefit

The new system provides an impressive capacity of 1.3 Gbps which more than meets shoppers’ requirements and expectations. Because of ClientMatch, they also have the ability to roam through the massive property without facing any drop in coverage or performance. The speed and ease of use has made the free Wi-Fi service extremely popular.

“We believe that the Aruba solution will enable more customers to use our public Wi-Fi and allow Yas Mall to deliver new features and capabilities to our customers and retailers,” says Al Atari.

As mobile engagement continues to evolve and play an increasingly significant role in the retail industry, Yas Mall is keen to stay ahead of the curve. Central to this strategy will be Aruba’s WLAN solution, which Al Atari calls a ‘platform for innovation’.

“We are already working with Aruba on the next phase which is a unique project that will be implemented for the first time in Abu Dhabi. It involves the integration of social media platforms with our wireless technology,” he explains.

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