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Facilities Update
MCCA Announces $2.6M State-of-the-Art Wi-Fi Infrastructure Upgrade At The Boston Convention & Exhibition Center

High-Density System Will Increase Wireless Access Points By 413%

The Massachusetts Convention Center Authority (MCCA) recently announced it is beginning installation of a $2.6 million wireless infrastructure overhaul at the Boston Convention & Exhibition Center (BCEC). The state-of-the-art upgrade will increase the number of existing wireless access points from 113 to at least 580, meaning a 413 percent increase in number of access points throughout the BCEC. 

The MCCA, the first organization in the meetings industry to offer completely complimentary and reliable wireless Internet service at its facilities, has upgraded the wireless infrastructure at the BCEC four times since 2004. The implementation of this wireless network will mark a complete overhaul of the original wireless infrastructure, and a transition from a traditional "coverage" wireless system, which focuses on signal strength over a wide area, to an advanced "high-density" system. The new system will increase the BCEC's wireless capacity, sending focused beams of wireless connectivity. More powerful access points enable more users to connect per access point, resulting in significantly improved signal strength.

"Today's meeting attendees come to conventions with at least two Wi-Fi enabled mobile devices and the expectation that they will receive reliable, fast wireless connectivity," said James E. Rooney, executive director of the MCCA. "Boston is the hub of innovation and technology leadership, so meeting professionals and event attendees expect more from Boston. Our goal is to operate the two most technologically advanced centers in the world, not according to us but in the judgment of our clients.  We are confident our latest investment in our wireless infrastructure will allow us to further exceed the expectations of our BCEC customers."

The MCCA enlisted the help of three renowned wireless systems experts to help guide the BCEC wireless internet upgrade project, including Neil Reid & Associates, M S Benbow & Associates, and Aruba Networks.

Neil Reid & Associates assisted the Authority in studying the current wireless infrastructure at the BCEC and evaluating the best solution for its customers. Principal, Neil Reid, is an internationally respected thought leader in wireless design whose resume includes the design, deployment, and maintenance of mega-Wi-Fi projects including the 2012 London Summer Olympics and several Super Bowls. In the BCEC wireless upgrade project, Reid played a key role in vendor and technology selection, as well as the development of a deployment plan.

"The new state-of-the-art Wi-Fi system designed, and presently being installed at the BCEC, represents not only the best of breed in wireless and networking technologies, but critically it also represents the very latest of what is understood about the engineering and delivery of very high capacity Wi-Fi networks," said Reid.  "We are proud to have played a key role in this high-profile project as a support to some of the best minds and most experienced Wi-Fi talent in the industry. Signature Boston customers will be able to enjoy some of the fastest, most stable and resilient Wi-Fi experience to be had in the convention center industry."

M S Benbow & Associates is a leading design and engineering firm with much experience working on large-scale wireless system deployments. The firm provided a major consulting role in the BCEC wireless upgrade, particularly in the design of the physical network infrastructure, developing a layout for wireless coverage that will guarantee improved wireless connectivity and capabilities at the BCEC. 

"We worked with the BCEC to design a world class system that will provide a robust coverage and capacity solution meeting the 802.11ac standard, which provides the highest data rates to end user devices," said Kenneth M. Wright, P.E., Telecommunications and Technology Manager of M S Benbow.  "In addition to the wireless aspects of the project, MSB&A provided design support services for the physical network infrastructure and will provide wireless tuning and optimization services once the system in constructed."

Aruba Networks, a premier vendor in access management, network infrastructure and mobility application solutions, created a customized wireless solution for the BCEC, and will produce the devices needed to provide those 580-plus wireless access points.

"Having the most advanced wireless infrastructure to support mobility has become an absolute expectation and a requirement at large public venues like the Boston Convention & Exhibition Center," said Christian Gilby, director of product and solutions marketing for Aruba Networks. "Rapid deployment, ease of configuration and management, and cost savings that Aruba can offer is critical to successful mobility roll-outs for forward-thinking organizations like the MCCA."

Installation of the new BCEC wireless infrastructure is currently underway, with the project slated to be complete for live-testing and phased implementation in May through September of 2015.  Also in 2015, the MCCA will begin developing a plan for a wireless upgrade at the John B. Hynes Veterans Memorial Convention Center for installation in 2016.

In addition to this major wireless system upgrade, the MCCA is currently underway with a $1 billion, 1.3 million-sq. ft. expansion of the BCEC, which will involve significant technology infrastructure aimed at maintaining Boston's technology leadership in the meetings industry. The MCCA is in the process of forming a technology advisory group comprised of meeting technology experts and meeting planners to design not just for today's technology standards, but for the future of meeting technology 20 years from now.