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Secure wireless network for Stockholm quay

Meru Networks : 16 June, 2009  (Application Story)
Meru Networks takes on the specific challenges of supplying a secure wireless access network on the busy Skeppsbron Quay in Stockholm for the Volvo Ocean Race this summer
When the Volvo Ocean Race takes over Stockholm (14th - 25th June), all of the Skeppsbron quay in front of the Royal Palace will be transformed into a single wireless network for data traffic. In building the wireless network, the DataCom team will have to overcome a number of unusual challenges in the form of tall buildings and varying weather conditions. The network will cover almost an entire kilometer, with 200 Mbit capacity.

The network, supplied by the Stockholm Stop-over Official Port Partner DataCom, will be built using equipment from Clavister and Meru Networks. It will accommodate all data traffic for television, radio, sponsors, sailing and service teams, guests and the general public. The stretch of almost one kilometer will be covered by a wireless network including 22 WLAN access points, more than 1 km fiber, 1.5 kilometers of copper cable and about 100 other components in the form of switches, servers, firewalls and controllers. It is expected to take about 600 man-hours to get in place, excluding support during the days of the event.

The network will handle broadcast-quality moving images at high speeds both internally within the network and externally to the Internet. Performance is 1 Gbit internally and 200 MB externally to the Internet. Firewalls will protect the network from external access and ensure that no improper data is transmitted (such as illegal file sharing).

'Safety is of course incredibly important. The wireless network we are building on Skeppsbron will be as secure against intrusion as today's wireless networks can possibly be' 'says Ralf Aspholm, CEO of DataCom.

The largest part of the network is wireless and DataCom faces a series of challenges that are unusual for the network at Skeppsbron.

• The weather - It is difficult to build a wireless network outdoors where both wind and rain strongly affect the performance of the RF network.

• Disruption from existing WLAN networks - Wireless networks are based on radio and are sensitive to interference from other radio signals and networks. On Skeppsbron, DataCom has found more than 100 other wireless networks, before the event even starts, all competing for the few channels available.

• Buildings - Tall, wide buildings have a major impact on radio signals and the major building work at Skeppsbron for sponsors and exhibitors will not be built until shortly before the event opens.

• Additional networks - Many new networks that can disrupt the radio signals will be built by sponsors and other stakeholders in the area just before and during the stopover.

• User load - it is impossible to predict the number of users during these days and how these will affect the performance of the network.

• Threats from outside - Among the potential hazards are those spread by viruses and spyware, not least given the level of businessmen who are in place, a rewarding target for theft of identities, account numbers and login information.

To ensure digital safety, DataCom is co-operating with the Swedish software company Clavister, a pioneer in virtual network security with a globally patented solution for wireless networks. The essence of the security system is a Clavister Security Gateway, a gatekeeper that monitors network traffic and blocks unauthorized and suspicious activities.

'It is a special challenge to secure public networks for large events. The complexity, time pressure and the large number of users has made this type of network a popular target for hackers, 'says Jonas Herner, the Sweden country manager for Clavister.

All hardware for the wireless network is provided by Meru Networks, a company with wealth of international experience in architecture for wireless networks. The products that will cover the network at Skeppsbron include 22 access points and 1 MC3025 controller.

Bo Ericson, Vice President Meru Networks Europe, says: 'It is a challenge in such a short timeframe to set up a wireless LAN at such a special occasion, but we are used to our equipment's being deployed for business-critical applications in such high-density environments as major international airports or large hospitals around the world.'

The specific challenges in the region require that the supplier has proven track record of networks in general and the wireless in particular. DataCom has worked with networks for 20 years. In fact, DataCom built Waxholmbolaget's wireless network, meeting similar challenges in the form of wind and weather.

'We are wireless networking experts with a keen interest in sailing, so it felt quite natural for us to be here and do our bit, now that Stockholm finally can host the world's largest sailing race. The Volvo Ocean Race organization chose DataCom because we have done similar installations previously and shown that we can handle the requirements,' said Ralf Aspholm, the DataCom CEO and a reigning Swedish and European sail racing champion.
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