The wireless LAN consisted of more than one hundred 802.11n and 802.11ac access points, about 30% of which were mounted outdoors on lamp posts and on exterior structures. In addition to the facilities and PoS networks, an EXPO guest network provided secure Internet access to visitors through a captive portal.
As a proactive safeguard against the unknown RF conditions in the environment, 7SIGNAL was called upon to implemented its Wi-Fi performance management system to provide continuous assessment of the Wi-Fi user experience throughout the event, and to provide an early warning system if performance fell below acceptable levels.
Cinetix Telecom Solutions, 7SIGNAL's reseller in Milan installed and configured the Sapphire system. They placed five Sapphire Eye sensors in key locations on the EXPO campus, and configured the service level targets for different key performance indicators. Given the highly mobile nature of the visitors, service levels for availability and throughput were the top concerns.
Each visitor was rate limited to 2 Mbps, and service level thresholds were set to alarm the IT staff when throughput dropped below 1.8 Mbps. Web page download tests included several mainstream websites, like Twitter, Facebook and Youtube, along with the expo's own website. They also setup automated weekly performance reports. These would give EXPO management at-a-glance performance charts for upload and download throughput, connection success rate, and webpage load times.
"It was very comforting to know we'd get an alert the moment performance fell below expectations."
The Sapphire Eye gave Telecom Italia and EXPO organizers complete visibility of Wi-Fi performance from the user perspective, throughout the EXPO. Whenever performance in a certain area dipped below the service level thresholds set, they received alerts and were able to drill down, investigate and fix the root cause. The data also gave them the basis for making incremental changes to the WLAN configuration to optimize throughput, and the means to verify whether new performance results showed improvement over previous benchmarks. Weekly reports from the Sapphire Eye showed Telecom Italia maintained better than 99.7% connection success rate and average download and upload throughput for each user of just under 2 Mbps.