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The International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) Council awarded the 2015 World Championships in Athletics to Beijing, to be held August 22 to August 30 in Beijing National Stadium (“Bird’s Nest”). The competition would be the largest sporting event in the stadium since the 2008 Summer Olympics.
Occupying more than 258,000 square meters, Beijing National Stadium is the largest stadium in China and has the largest steel structure with more steel than any other stadium worldwide. Comprehensive Wi-Fi coverage in the stadium was needed to support 80,000 concurrent connections and 24,000 concurrent users, with all spectators able to access the network at the same time within five minutes. All Wi-Fi network performance indicators needed to be tested before August 20th, when the Wi-Fi network would open to the public for the IAAF World Championships.
Huawei’s technical experts know that often it takes six to eight months to deliver a wireless stadium network, but the project had to be completed in three month’s time for opening day. There would be no room for error in site surveys, network planning, device preparation, project implementation, network calibration, and project delivery.
Huawei R&D, product, and service experts got together in Beijing in two days and formed a team with 27 members. The site survey was completed in the first week, devices were prepared in the second week, and all devices were available in the third week. The project was going smoothly, but then, things got challenging.
To achieve comprehensive Wi-Fi coverage, the team needed to first plan the network, but the steel structure was impacting signals so that precisely balancing coverage effects, interference, and capacity became nearly impossible.
The team considered several planning methods, but each had considerable disadvantages. If the team planned with CAD drawings, they could finish the planning work in a shorter time, but planning effects would not be accurate. If the team planned with the latest in-house 3D planning tool, signal coverage effects could be displayed in 3D simulation diagrams and signal coverage verified before deployment, but it would require more time, which could delay the project.
Hearing about this situation, the customer offered to provide their own 3D modeling to assist the Huawei team, helping the project to get back on schedule.
After the network was planned out, project implementation began. Installation personnel needed to install all the Access Points (APs) and antennas on the stadium’s lofty ceilings, as well as repeatedly adjust and optimize installation locations, which was a labor-intensive task.
The biggest difficulty was that the 155 APs and antennas covering three layers of stands could only be installed between the roof and suspended ceiling in order to avoid coverage holes with a high-density crowd, and the stadium’s opaque PTFE acoustic ceiling obscured view of the equipment. To make the required adjustments, the engineers would need to blindly calibrate the antennas; that is, they would be required to re-adjust the antennas after every test. Using this approach, engineers could complete the antenna angle adjustment for only one stand per day. Such an inefficient process would cause substantial delays, so the team members needed to find a new approach. A Huawei WLAN service representative suggested a perfect solution: a Huawei-developed antenna calibration App, designed for 3 km outdoor backhaul, might solve the problem.
The App requires one engineer to stand in the coverage area and open the App, while another engineer adjusts antennas on the ceiling. The App sends prompts that allow the App to function as the engineer’s eyes during a blind calibration to complete the adjustment.
With this App in hand, engineers finished calibration and optimization work for the entire ceiling in just one week.
Outdoor porch surrounded by the steel structure
On August 18th, four days earlier than the scheduled time, all devices were installed, commissioned, and providing good coverage. The final test would be the 2015 IAAF World Championships.
On August 22th, the 2015 IAAF World Championships opened, welcoming tens of thousands of spectators from around the world. Huawei’s network met both design expectations and customer requirements. According to the statistics collected after the games:
The World Championship Organizing Committee lauded Huawei for a job well done, saying, “Huawei finished the work successfully and provided audiences with a better Wi-Fi service experience. With strong technical strength and solution capabilities, Huawei is a trusted partner.”
On August 30th, the nine-day 2105 IAAF World Championships in Beijing ended, after presenting the games to a worldwide audience of six billion and garnering praise both at home and overseas. At the closing ceremony, IAAF president, Sebastian Coe, expressed his appreciation to Huawei for making the 2015 games an unprecedented success.
The free Wi-Fi network at the IAAF World Championships included more than 1,000 APs that Huawei deployed in the stadium. Total network traffic was 16.4 TB, which is equivalent to sending 8.6 million digital photos or 1.6 billion social media interactions.
The good signal coverage during the opening day ceremonies earned positive buzz on WeChat and other social media. Before half of the game schedule was completed, the IAAF IT recommended Huawei to the 2017 London IAAF World Championships’ organizing committee. Emanuele Perotti Nigra, IAAF IT director, released this statement: “Huawei delivered such a complex project in just three months. It is really unbelievable. The Wi-Fi access experience is very good here now.”