Cisco will provide wireless network access for athletes, journalists and organisers of the London 2012 Olympic Games by dividing the stadiums into segments and using CleanAir technology to work out which part of the spectrum will be best for delivering services.
Speaking to Techworld at the Cisco Live Europe conference in London yesterday, the company's vice president of service providers for EMEA, Edwin Paalvast, said that Cisco's experience of delivering Wi-Fi access to American and European football stadiums means it has now mastered traffic management and data performance in densely populated areas.
Paalvast explained that, once a stadium is divided up, each segment is tested for wireless LAN interference using Cisco's CleanAir technology, which automatically detects radio interference and is capable of mapping its source. Interference could be caused by a rogue access point, camera equipment, or even a mobile phone, said Paalvast.
The technology then identifies the frequency with the least amount of interference and deploys services in that spectrum band. This is done separately for each segment, so you could end up with a stadium where each segment is operating on a different frequency.
"You try to have neighbouring segments in different channels," said Paalvast. "If you do this very cleverly and use different antenna technology, some antennas actually cover anybody who falls out of certain segments, and others are directed towards certain segments."
All the antennas are linked up to one big virtual network, so if people move between different segments in the stadium, it automatically detects their devices and hands provision over the the next available antenna - just like a mobile network.
Cisco has also worked to identify characteristic behaviours of certain smartphones, so that the network can be tuned to support these devices. Paalvast said the company is using MIMO (Multiple Input/Multiple Output) technology, which essentially uses the reflections of transmissions to improve communication performance.
"If a person in front of you stands up or there is an obstacle in the way, the signal might bounce off the walls from multiple sides, so when it reaches your device it can work out that those signals are coming from the same source, and piece them together to figure out what the signal was," he said.
Cisco's new Aironet 3600 Series Access Point, announced yesterday, has a MIMO configuration with four antennas forming three spatial streams that extend the reach of the network. The product is designed to deal with the exponential growth in mobile devices, as well as increased adoption of bring-your-own-device (BYOD) strategies within organisations.
Cisco is an official tier-two infrastructure supporter for the London 2012 Olympics, and its network will support a multitude of connected devices during the Games, ranging from wireless cameras to private mobile networks and monitors on athletes' shoes.
The company is also teaming up with BT and Atos to provide cloud-based services for stakeholders and media, as well as collaboration solutions based on Cisco's WebEx solution for web conferencing, online meetings and data sharing.
However, Cisco's participation does not end there. The company's CTO Padmasree Warrior said Cisco plans to leave 20 percent of its network infrastructure behind after the Games, to support economic growth in the UK. This will be used by Cisco's "networking academies" to help train people in new IT skills.
The company is also launching its $500 million "British Innovation Gateway" (BIG) programme, designed to give SMEs the opportunity to grow their business by connecting them with investors and other entrepreneurs. The BIG project will be supported by the UK's education and research network Janet.
"Initiatives like this are a fantastic opportunity for Britain to foster home-grown technology and business talent, and to help attract the best international talent, contributing to a better future for the UK," said Eric Van Der Kleij, chief executive of the Tech City Investment Organisation, back in September.