The PGA European Tour has selected Xirrus' Wi-Fi to provide spectators with access to golfers' location, stream video content, and enable the PGA to understand more about its fans.
Graham Gifford, ICT director at PGA European Tour, told Computing that the PGA spoke to Cisco, HP, Aruba Networks and Juniper Networks, for its Wi-Fi solution but that Xirrus was chosen ahead of the others, partly because of the time it takes to deploy the equipment for the events.
"For golfing events we move week in, week out to different venues. We aren't deploying to existing structures, so we need to be able to set up equipment and deploy it very quickly. We spoke to quite a few vendors, and they needed a lot more time to deploy a new network, whereas Xirrus only needed a few days," he said.
Another issue with many of the vendors that Gifford's team looked at, was the necessity to have some form of connectivity back to a physical controller to manage the different components of the wireless solution.
"Although the other vendors had some form of a standalone unit, you had to configure multiple access points individually, meaning that you lose the whole purpose of having a centralised solution, and you also lose the visibility of what's actually happening on your network as well," Gifford said.
The first phase of the rollout was the deployment of Xirrus Wireless Arrays at its Wentworth Club headquarters for the BMW PGA Championship in May.
Gifford was impressed by the capabilities displayed by Xirrus Wireless Arrays.
"Other vendors have failed [with their Wi-Fi solutions] in the past, and we've experienced multiple ‘dead zones' and poor application performance. With Xirrus we have complete coverage - the capability to handle huge capacity and bandwidth demands with no dropouts on video delivery," he said.
He claimed that users were satisfied with the coverage they received at the BMW Wentworth Championship, with 3,500 devices connected to the network.
The European Tour used the Xirrus Management System (XMS) to monitor and manage the network, and Gifford explained that this was a valuable tool.
"One feature of this software was fantastic and that was the tracking and location of users. This enabled us to identify which areas are hotspots and track visitor movements. This data can be used to layout and design the village areas to understand where the hotspots are or put more infrastructures in certain areas to alleviate them [from a high demand of network capacity]," he said.
Gifford said the PGA is using the data it gets from its events to ensure that the Ryder Cup in 2014 meets spectators' expectations.
"We want to know what users are doing on the network, how they are interacting with each other, and what kinds of applications they are looking for, so that we can deliver something first class for the Ryder Cup in 2014," he said.