September 28, 2023
Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) has deployed a pop-up network at this year’s Ryder Cup golf competition that blends two flavours of connectivity.
First and foremost, there is private 5G. This is significant because it uses solutions developed by Athonet, which HPE agreed to acquire in February this year as part of its expansion into the private cellular networking market.
The deal closed in June, at which point Tom Craig, general manager of HPE’s communications technology group described private 5G as “by far the most exciting enterprise use case for 5G,” and that its integration with wifi represents “the future of enterprise technology.”
Time to put that assertion to the test.
Craig’s enthusiastic declarations bring us onto the other access technology on offer at the Ryder Cup, which is of course wifi. This comes courtesy of Aruba, another HPE acquisition – albeit one that was made quite a while ago now.
Wifi represents the main source of connectivity during the tournament, with HPE installing more than 800 access points (APs) across the 370-acre course near Rome, Italy. The APs are based on the latest wifi standards, Wi-Fi 6 and Wi-Fi 6E, and are for use not just by spectators, but also organisers, sponsors and even competitors.
For avid golf fans who stray to the farthest reaches of the course but still want to keep up with the latest scores, or staff who need to stay in constant contact, a 5G cell site has been installed in a central location. This will provide backhaul connectivity to solar-powered Wi-Fi APs deployed in more remote parts of the site.
The cell site in question is powered by Athonet’s portable and compact private cellular solution, called Tactical Cube. It is running on a chunk of 3.8-GHz spectrum, which has been temporarily reserved for private use especially for the Ryder Cup.
“When we announced our acquisition of Athonet earlier this year, our goal was to become the global leader in private 5G solutions and the Ryder Cup is a perfect opportunity to showcase how our Wi-Fi and private 5G innovations work together to achieve that goal,” said Phil Mottram, EVP and GM, HPE Aruba Networking. “This is a perfect showcase for the integration of private 5G and Wi-Fi in a challenging environment, with private 5G providing extended range and reliability for operations staff, while Wi-Fi 6E provides high-capacity connectivity to thousands of fans concentrated in core areas.”
As many people would agree, one of the biggest bugbears about public Wi-Fi is going through a laborious sign-up process only to discover the network is heavily contended, leading to the conclusion that sticking with cellular would have been the smarter choice. However, that’s often the moment at which it becomes evident that the mobile network is also contended, extinguishing any lingering hopes of being able to stay connected.
With 250,000 people expected to attend this year’s Ryder Cup, HPE is under a heap of pressure to prove any sceptics wrong, and deliver a pop-up network that actually works. Ironically for a golf tournament, a sub-par performance will not be tolerated.
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