Wireless access

By eweek  |  Posted 2004-07-19 Print this article Print

Who are the actual users going to be, the delegates? We support three primary groups. Our staff and volunteers, which fluctuates between 800 and 1,000 people. Were going to deploy over 800 computers [to them]. We provide services to all the delegates, roughly 5,600 to 6,000 delegates.
The services come in the form of the voting system, bloggers, tablets, laptops, as well as to provide services off the floor, like e-mail. In addition were setting up a Polycom videoconferencing system. So we can do a one-to-many broadcast of a delegate breakfast in the morning. Were making sure they have access to the support they need at the hotels.
The media is the third client. The numbers are about 15,000 members, and that includes their support staff, producers, directors, roadies, as well as their on-air talent, reporters and such. We have two general press filing areas. So we provide Internet connectivity, phones, wireless; we dont provide equipment. We also help the larger organization coordinate with Verizon and get all their drops installed and work on the wiring. [We have] two parallel networks installed: one network to support our network and our operations, and the second parallel network that Verizons doing to support the media, because the media has to contract for those services. Theres no crossover between the networks? No. They are two completely separate networks. We share closets, but theres no logical connection, no VLAN. They are two separate networks. We are providing a small amount of Wi-Fi connectivity for the photographers, so that they can have some mobility and file photos from the floor. And then as we ramp up and gauge our capacity well try to increase that and create some real targeted hot spots around the floor. Its not for the general press, not for anyone who walks through the door. Itll be a very targeted, very strategic area. So they go to a certain spot. Yes, they [the photographers] live at a certain spot near the stage, behind the media towers. Photographers know where theyre going to be and what well do is try to light those areas for them. How do you keep the access restricted? Theres a couple layers of what we can do. With the tri-band access points that were using from Cisco we can do a couple different things. We can do surveys with the antennas. Each band, [802.11] a, b and g can be VLANed, so if you hit the access point with a card, youll be sent to our authenticated PEAP [Protected Extensible Authentication Protocol] system through our firewall, through our ISA server and into our network. Our staff is going to be using an a network. B and g users will be VLANed though a different access point out to the Internet. And then layered on top of that well use the standard MAC address and some other things we can do to keep people off. There will be access points in each of the voting stations. Each of the delegations has a podium. And were going to bury our access points in there. Well be able to turn them on and off as we need to through a centralized management system. We can also monitor for rogue activity. So delegations can get wireless access when you give it to them? If we are going to be giving it to the delegates. At this point its such a difficult radio environment. Theres wireless, TV cameras, wireless microphones. Were going to be surrounded by microwave trucks. Were two miles from Logan [airport] and a mile from a hospital that uses wireless from end to end. Its just going to be, to say the least, a very rich radio environment. And so we keep that in mind as we try to do this. The members of the media are aware of this as well. They know theres limitations. They have wired drops to file their stories. Its mission critical for them, so nobody is relying on wireless. For the delegates well roll that out if we can. Everyone knows this is a very difficult environment. That being said, if we control the number of people that hit our access points, if they are very focused on what they are doing, were moderately confident we can achieve what we want to, which is provide Wi-Fi access to people who really need it to work in and outside of the convention. Then if we have capacity we can extend that to public spaces and for our staff. So if you expand it to public spaces, would it be relatively open? Its a credentialed event so we know everyone whos going through the door. We are in contact with everybody such as the delegations and what they need, what the medias requesting and what our staff needs. Its really providing a service thats requested of us. We knew from the beginning that we wouldnt be able to supply Wi-Fi to anyone who walks through the door. So its more of a corporate setting. Were providing it for people who need it, not just to have it out there to say were doing it. Next page: Security.


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