PARIS, FRANCE AND SUNNYVALE, CA – July 3, 2012 – Ruckus Wireless™ announced today that it was selected to provide the official Wi-Fi network at the world-renowned Le Mans 24 Hours, which took place recently in Paris, France.
After evaluating solutions from several networking integrators, ACO, the organizers of Le Mans 24 Hours, selected Ruckus for its unique ability to handle interference and meet high capacity requirements, and its superior performance.
“Our challenge in finding the right solution was that we didn’t have a precise idea of what we needed. We just wanted it to work,” said Fabrice Gérard, IT manager for ACO.
Demand for Wi-Fi access has grown in recent years since the number of Wi-Fi-enabled devices being used by fans and spectators has increased. “It’s no longer a luxury item, it’s just expected by everyone attending the race - the press, sponsors and even the race teams,” said Gérard.
ACO had a simple goal: remove the hundreds of wires that connected the paddocks, the stands, the pressroom and more, and replace them with a Wi-Fi network. Yet addressing the wireless network had been a headache for Gérard’s team in recent years, given the high number of variables with a prestigious racing event like Le Mans.
“A normal race is easy to handle. You’ve got a dozen journalists needing Internet access in the pressroom and some radio connections to bear in mind,” said Gérard. “During the main racing weekend of Le Mans 24 Hours we have 1,300 journalists and more than a hundred private Wi-Fi networks to deal with. It’s total chaos. Nevertheless, the information has to get through.”
“Users will complain left and right if the network doesn’t work, but it’s really hard to identify where the point of failure is,” said Richard Mézière, manager of Illico Réseau, the integration partner of Ruckus Wireless responsible for the installation and management of the network at the racetrack. “Which is where the Ruckus system really helped, because it allowed us to have a complete view into the network and the devices that accessed it at any given time, and we were able to make bandwidth adjustments when needed to keep performance at an optimal level.”
Expecting the Unexpected
A major challenge in providing reliable capacity and coverage to the Le Mans 24 Hours event was that there were very few known parameters, according to Mézière.
“It’s practically impossible to know where Wi-Fi clients were going to be and what their bandwidth requirements were,” said Mézière. “The same is true for the pressroom. We couldn’t forecast peaks and lows in user traffic, as it was all dependent on what happened in the race. With so many variables in play, a traditional infrastructure simply wouldn’t work.”
Le Mans 24 Hours had two key requirements, which prevented the use of a standard solution:
- redundancy in critical areas of the site to ensure optimal service whatever the surrounding conditions; and
- most of the hotspots had to be mobile so the network could be adapted, in real time, to requirements on the ground.
The ACO chose Ruckus Wireless’s ZoneFlex Smart Wi-Fi system to do the job, as the Le Mans 24 Hours organizers saw it as the best possible solution for dealing with the various sources of interference around the racetrack, such as unofficial Wi-Fi networks and radio communications between the drivers and their support teams.
Each ZoneFlex access point (AP) is based on the company’s patented BeamFlex technology, a dynamic antenna array with multiple elements, which directs transmit energy towards the best path for the receiving device. It enables the Wi-Fi signal to be adapted in real-time to avoid the problems that beset networks in extreme conditions.
“When we presented our solution in 2011, it was to a wary audience which had experienced a number of disappointing solutions,” said Andrew Bartram, sales manager at Ruckus Wireless. “Over the course of several months we worked closely with ACO and Le Mans 24 Hours staff to prove the value of our solution. Today, Ruckus Wireless is proud to have deployed a successful Wi-Fi network where other suppliers failed. We are also proud to be serving the needs of a race that holds such a prestigious place in the history of motorsport.”