The LPGA Kraft Nabisco Championship at Mission Hills Country Club in Rancho Mirage, California, is golf's first major of the year, attracting more than 50,000 spectators and 200 accredited media personnel.
For a number of years, tournament organizers faced challenges in delivering a reliable wireless network to vendors and media personnel. For the 2012 event, the tournament’s IT contractor, Jared Bownds of Boundless IT, turned to Open Mesh to help deliver a cloud-managed wireless mesh solution.
In less than a day, Bownds deployed 14 Open Mesh 802.11n access points—a mix of OM2Ps and dual-band MR500s—and began managing them through Open Mesh’s cloud-based network controller, CloudTrax. With CloudTrax, Bownds could set access and bandwidth policies, monitor usage in real-time, keep unauthorized users off the network and more.
“We were surprised at how simple the equipment was to setup and quickly saw the value in cloud management,” said Bownds. “With the ability to manage our networks from one central location and configure each device from CloudTrax, we found we needed fewer people to install, manage and maintain our network.“
The tournament’s temporary media tent presented particular networking challenges. During the weeklong tournament, media personnel from ESPN, USA Today and nearly 100 other outlets gathered in the tent and used the network to post stories and social media updates and tackle bandwidth-intensive tasks such as photo and high-definition video uploads, FTP transfers and streaming video chats. Moments after Sun Young Yoo won the tournament, network traffic peaked as 200 individual media personnel simultaneously sent stories, photos and videos to their media outlets for distribution. Where systems would consistently fail under this load in the past, Open Mesh was able to handle the demand with ease.
“This was the first time there has been zero disruption in Internet service due to hardware,” said Bownds. “Media personnel were able to focus on their work and meeting press deadlines, not having to deal with disconnects or service interruptions.”
To service the media tent, Bownds used CloudTrax to see who was on the network, which devices they were connecting with, and how much data was passing through. His team analyzed usage of the network in real time so they could immediately spot choke points and take action to add access points or change bandwidth allocations to keep the network running smoothly.
"The Open Mesh equipment overcame every obstacle and delivered a reliable, cost-effective and easy to use solution for our partners and vendors."
Outside the media center, tournament organizers found the Open Mesh product extremely flexible. When wireless connectivity was desired in a new, unplanned location, additional access points were simply added—without the need to run additional cables or install new modems. And when vendors in some of those same locations requested the ability to process credit cards, Bownds was able to deliver because each access point could physically connect with additional wired devices off both gateway and repeater units.
“There are many technical challenges involved in providing wireless for an event like ours,” said Kate Cunningham, Senior Director for the Kraft Nabisco Championship. “Open Mesh delivered a reliable, cost-effective and easy to use solution for our partners and vendors.“