How Did We Set up Wi-Fi in the Woods?
We thought it’d be time to tell you about some of the fun, funny, or exciting clients we work with here at Slice. Starting off the series is a music festival that wrapped up last month in northern New Jersey that had a wooded location, a tight deadline, and some last minute changes that, while they could have derailed everything, gave us an opportunity to show we can rise to the challenge.
“I mean if we found hikers in the area, they would have been the lost ones, that’s how far it was.”
The client was putting on a festival with 50 vendors and 20 production staff, along with 6 POS devices for check-in. The event was expected to draw around 8,000 attendees, so a lot was riding on us providing a beautiful Wi-Fi experience.
The most challenging aspect of this whole deployment was that the festival was only two and a half weeks away when we were first approached, eek! Clearing out anything movable from our calendar, we did an on-site speed survey at the location which was more than 2 miles from the nearest township. And we mean town, with no tall buildings where nearby cell masts might provide better connections. Compounding this, the festival would be in a heavily wooded state park, in a valley, meaning it was one of the most difficult places to get wi-fi into we had tackled yet. But we knew with our equipment and skill we would work out a way.
We perform our speed surveys with a variety of devices, both Android and Apple, as well as a couple different generations of each, in order to get an idea of what the usual variety of devices would actually experience. Performing the speed survey we found that while one carrier had solid but low-speed coverage (5 Mbps Upload / 5 Mbps Download) over the entire area, a different carrier provided higher-speed but spottier coverage (7 Mbps Upload / 15 Mbps Download). Isn’t it always this way, half of what you have you don’t want and the other half you can’t get anymore of?
Fortunately using our Slice Gateway we were able to bond the signals of the two carriers, so that it would failover if one moved into an area only covered by the slower carrier. This is part of the benefit of working with us, as the Gateway itself is several thousand dollars of equipment we have tweaked for our own purposes, that you can use for much less.
A lot of funny event stories stem from one type of interaction, where some last minute change will require reorganizing a significant aspect of the work. This is one of the reasons our sales people seem to ask so many questions. We’ve seen almost everything happen, at least once or twice, and want to be prepared for it. In this case it was learning that five production trailers would need wi-fi at the farthest end of the lot! One thing people are vaguely aware of, in the same way one is vaguely aware that some grocery bags are sturdier than others, is that materials and walls adversely affect wifi, so relying on an outdoor AP’s signal inside of a metal trailer off in a far corner isn’t the ideal set up.
While normally one wouldn’t be bringing indoor APs to an outdoor festival, thanks to our deep inventory we were able to work out a solution on the ground and ensure Wi-Fi was available everywhere needed for the festival.
This situation was also pretty interesting because with only a week before the festival, the client decided they would do better to set up a permanent Wi-Fi solution to add value to the space. In this case we were not able to secure all the needed equipment and schedule out the technicians required to cover a large outdoor festival-ground on such short notice. But we did what we could and took extensive measurements during the temporary deployment so when we went in a couple weeks later we knew the areas that needed closer AP’s and those where coverage extended further than one would expect.
Keep in mind, every deployment is different and space and set-up determines a lot of what is needed. Working with Slice means our expertise helps you develop the best solution for your event, festival, or permanent installation. So what did we end up using for this large (and successful) deployment?
1 Slice Gateway to bond two 4g/3g modems
2 Three-foot 4g/3g Antennas
3 Outdoor APs
1 Indoor AP for the production trailer
1 WiFi controller
We hope you got a better look at the complexity of our work, and look forward to helping you with your own event’s Wi-Fi!