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Facilities Update
Cobo Center Complete $2 Million Wireless Technology Upgrade


Cobo stays ahead of the curve with a complete WiFi upgrade

Claude Molinari, general manager of SMG/Cobo Center, recently announced the completion of a two million-dollar technology upgrade for Cobo Center. The work includes an upgraded Nortel core switch that distributes the WiFi signal and along with several new Nortel edge switches located throughout the center.

System improvements also include upgrading WiFi access points to 802.11ac Aruba APs and increasing the number of APs to 400 throughout the facility. The network location of APs and configuration will be remapped based on events' anticipated high use of WiFi in specific areas. This pre-planning creates design cost-effective networks that support uninterrupted digital services while minimizing cross-channel interference that can result from excessive and disorganized access points. The organic design smooths out the user's experience and gives them "more on ramps" to the network.

These WiFi upgrades will allow 32,000 simultaneous users on the network. With device/client counts increasing every year for Cobo, the wireless continues to process ever increasing amounts of bandwidth per device/client and the upgrades will assure a fluid user experience. Some Cobo event WiFi traffic examples include:

2016 SEIU: 6,516 unique clients, 1.8TB of data traffic 2016 NAIAS Press Week: 14,640 unique clients, 3.06TB of data traffic 2015 NAIAS Press Week: 9000 unique clients, 1.3TB of data traffic

To create a more flexible WiFi network, the ClearPass Access Management System was installed to create an integrated platform, allow coherence of private networks and create a WiFi splash page for the facility-wide "CoboFree" WiFi network, that will require users to click through a splash page designed to highlight sponsors or include advertisers, thus generating event revenue

"For the visitors that use our WiFi network, these upgrades will be like moving from a one lane highway to a three lane super-speedway," said Molinari.

Discovery during pre-event planning for a show in Cobo Center may reveal estimated high usage, in which case, the Technology Services department is prepared to add more APs to smooth out the user's experience and allow for a greater number of guests and their wireless devices to access the Internet at ever-increasing speeds.  Visitor use of WiFi service has always been free throughout Cobo Center.
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