How WindyCityRails achieved over 100Mbps of bandwidth in the middle of a golf course, next to Lake Michigan.
WindyCityRails 2012 was held at Chicago’s South Shore Cultural Center, a beautiful venue along the shores of Lake Michigan. Great views, great venue, wonderful place for a conference. We attracted 272 software developers this year.
Dealing With the Downside
The one downside of the venue: The Internet connection. While South Shore’s Internet connection is okay for everyday use, the WindyCityRails audience is hungry for bandwidth. Each attendee packs heavy with two or three WiFi devices: MacBook Pro, iPad, and iPhone. 272 attendees x 3 devices = 816 possible connections. How do you deliver a fast Internet connection to bandwidth-hungry developers without disturbing the beauty of the venue?
Getting Faster Bandwidth
WindyCityRails turned to Carl Jackson for a solution. Carl is a veteran member of the WindyCityRails organizer team, so he knows our needs well. Carl solved the problem using these components:
- A microwave Internet connection from Business Only Broadband (BOB)
- High-performance WiFi gear from Ruckus Wireless
Microwave to the Internet
Wireless internet connections are quicker to install because you don’t have to dig up the streets to lay cable. BOB’s microwave setup consisted of a temporary antenna mounted on the roof of venue, which connects via microwave to a companion antenna several miles away. Every byte sent or received during WindyCityRails traversed this microwave link.
WiFi Distribution: Ruckus Wireless
Bringing the connection to the venue is only half the battle. How do you distribute the bandwidth so that everyone can benefit?
With over 270 attendees at this year’s WindyCityRails, we didn’t want to rely on the typical WiFi access point from the typical retail store. The WindyCityRails team chose WiFi equipment made by Ruckus Wireless to deliver the bandwidth. Ruckus is a relatively new, fast-growing company that competes against older & larger WiFi manufacturers. Ruckus wins because their access points can handle more users simultaneously and with greater bandwidth. The Ruckus Wireless site details the steps Ruckus takes to boost WiFi performance.
When maintaining a WiFi network, it can also be necessary to block rogue devices whenever they show themselves. The Ruckus Zone Director software enables the network engineers to monitor WiFi activity and to balance the load as needed.
The Result: Over 100Mbps in Both Directions
Speedtest.net measured the bandwidth at 114Mbps down, 148Mbps up. We achieved our goal with room to spare. Plenty of speed for the bandwidth-hungry WindyCityRails audience.
The next WindyCityRails will be held September 12-13, 2013 at the same venue, South Shore Cultural Center. Tickets are on sale now. Come on out, the bandwidth is fine!