ADNEC Taps Aruba to Deliver Wi-Fi at Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre


Abu Dhabi Nation Exhibition Company (ADNEC) has deployed powerful new 802.11ac Wi-Fi technology from Aruba, a Hewlett Packard Enterprise company, at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre.

The new infrastructure has laid the foundation for transformation to an IoT-driven exhibition centre and delivers secure, seamless and high-speed wireless connectivity across the 73,000 sqm facility. Post implementation, there has been a significant increase in Wi-Fi satisfaction to 95% from the previous average of 70-80%.

Wi-Fi is a vital part of the exhibition experience, leveraged for everything from running demos, essential services and social media engagement, to keeping international guests and visitors connected without the prohibitive cost of roaming services. ADNEC’s legacy Wi-Fi infrastructure presented a business risk as it inhibited the institution’s ability to correctly deliver these fundamental services. It not only adversely impacted the company’s reputation, but also resulted in revenue loss due to exhibitors looking for alternative venues with better wireless connectivity.

In line with ADNEC’s vision of being ‘the region’s leading exhibitions venue’, the decision was taken to upgrade the infrastructure. Mr. Ahmed Al Marzooqi, Director – IT, ADNEC and his team selected Aruba after careful evaluation of solutions from leading vendors, analysis of independent reports from reputed industry research firms, and feedback from other large public venues in the Emirates. Explaining his decision, Mr. Al Marzooqi said, “In addition to meeting all our requirements, Aruba demonstrated a flexible OpEx based model and readiness to meet the unique logistic challenges of our deployment.”

To deliver seamless coverage across the 73,000 sqm facility, ADNEC deployed 436 indoor and 14 outdoor 801.11ac Access Points (APs) from Aruba. The APs were connected to 7200-series Aruba Mobility Controllers and ADNEC implemented Aruba Airwave to proactively monitor wireless health and performance and gain granular visibility and reporting capabilities across its network.

Just weeks after the Wi-Fi overhaul, ADNEC hosted the ‘World Future Energy Summit’, featuring 850 exhibitors from 40 countries and hosting high-profile dignitaries including leaders of the UAE. “It was a data-intensive event that presented a rigorous real-world test, and Aruba came through with flying colours. We didn’t have a single instance of AP failure and even with over 8,500 simultaneous connections, no complaints about performance or coverage were raised,” said Sunando Chaudhuri, Advisor – IT, ADNEC.

Post-event feedback was validation of the success of the wireless project. It showed an increase in Wi-Fi satisfaction among all stakeholders to 95% – a vast improvement over the Exhibition Centre’s previous 70-80% average.

The company has raised Wi-Fi speeds from 5Mbps to an incredible 150Mbps for its free service and can finally meet and exceed the SLAs set for the premium service offered to exhibitors. Aruba also gives ADNEC confidence that when it sees expected spikes of up to 15,000 simultaneous connections, users will face no degradation in performance.

Aruba’s Mobility Controllers has significantly decreased the IT team’s workload. Aruba Airwave’s granular monitoring capabilities allows the team to streamline operations. “Wi-Fi is now our primary source of footfall-related data which we use to track visitor movement in real-time. By sharing this with our operations teams, we empower them to pre-emptively address the challenges associated with crowd concentration before complaints are raised,” Mr. Chaudhuri said.

ADNEC now runs its communications, security systems, CCTV, digital signage, and payment terminals on the Aruba Wi-Fi platform. Outlining ADNEC’s objective for the next phase, Mr. Al Marzooqi said, “We have many physical assets such as our building management system that handles cooling, lighting, fire and life safety and parking management. All this is IoT-ready and we intend to utilise Aruba to transform into an IoT-driven business.”

ADNEC also intends to develop a wayfinding solution on the Wi-Fi platform, looking into the Aruba mobile engagement and analytics solution based on Bluetooth beacons, the Meridian mobile app platform and the Aruba Analytics & Location Engine [ALE].

“Aruba has enabled us to become an exhibition venue offering the fastest Wi-Fi services in the region. Extending beyond the performance and reliability benefits, the solution offers a clear innovation roadmap with tangible benefits to our IT, operations, and marketing teams as well as our 1.8 million annual visitors,” he concluded.