Sands Expo Unveils 2.25 Million Square Feet of High Bandwith Wi-Fi Connections

February 12, 2013

The Sands Expo & Convention Center is one of the busiest convention and meetings properties in the United States, with many thousands of attendees often at just one of the venue’s several annual events all wanting to be connected and stay connected at the same time.

The challenge was, if let’s say 5,000 attendees were at a keynote and the speaker wanted everyone to answer a question through an audience response system, how could the Sands make sure they delivered as a venue in this moment?

Justin Herrman, executive director of IT at the Sands, said a lot of the high-performance wireless networks the venue considered to solve this issue just weren’t up to par, until they looked into Xirrus.

“We did a pilot with Xirrus, and it always worked,” he added.

The deployment covers more than 2.2 million square feet, including the main Sands Expo floor, as well as adjacent meeting rooms and common areas at the Palazzo and Venetian properties in Las Vegas.

“What really set Xirrus apart is its ability to function as an application-aware wireless switch. As new users connect, there is no degradation of experience for the already-connected users,” Herrman said.

He added, “As more users come on to the Arrays, their application experience remains consistent. Each Xirrus Array – and I’ve seen this personally – can support 200, 500, 800 or even more than 1,000 users, depending on the model. Xirrus can scale and provide seamless roaming so that our guests always have a perfect wireless experience – no matter the traffic load.”

Bruce Miller, vice president of product marketing for Xirrus, said the reason why his company succeeds in keeping people connected, while other companies may fail, is because “we put a lot of radios in the same device.” In other words, where there used to be two radios in a device, which required dozens of units, with more radios, fewer units are required.

At the Sands, he added, there are about 200 units that cover 2.25 million sq. ft. of space. As a result, there also is less cable needed to connect everything and that means savings on costs, equipment and management, Miller said.

The Sands hosts several high-tech events, including VM World, HP Universe and Microsoft MMS, to name a few, besides large trade shows such as SHOT Show and ASD Las Vegas, both of which attract tens of thousands of attendees.

“Show managers want everyone to be online and to have the capability for real-time feedback,” he said. Having a high-performance wireless network is crucial to this success, and now that Xirrus is in the building, Herrman said, it could help attract even more shows looking to stay connected.

Beyond just the Wi-Fi network, Miller said there are several other services that can be deployed in the future, including wayfinding GPS systems for mobile devices; threshold marketing that will pick up when someone walks past an establishment a few times and offer them incentives; and when an attendee walks into a booth, a splash screen could appear asking them if they want to download marketing materials to their device.

“It’s not just about Wi-Fi,” Miller said. “It’s about other services being added on (and) starting to monetize the network. It’s a big trend we’re starting to see in large, public venues.”

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