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The Ryder Cup: A "travelling circus" replete with private 5G and 800 Wi-Fi 6E points

Michael Cole, CTO of the European Tour group, points to importance of private 5G, as HPE rolls out solar-powered

“At the modern Ryder Cup there is quite the travelling circus: wives and partners, vice-captains and VIPs, marshals and carabinieri, scorers and spotters and snappers and scribes” wrote the Guardian’s Jonathan Liew in a colourful report from the biennial golf competition this week.

Usefully for that “travelling circus” if less colourfully for reporters on a technology beat, HPE has revealed how it built out a high-capacity network for the sporting event – this year held in Rome – deploying an integrated private 5G and Wi-Fi network with over 800 access points after persuading the Italian government to part with some precious 3.8 GHz band spectrum.

“Each Ryder Cup gives us an opportunity to push the boundaries of technological innovation to maximise the fan experience” as Michael Cole, CTO of the European Tour group – which organises more than 100 professional golf events worth over €120 million in prize money yearly – puts it, and powerful, high-capacity network in place is always a priority for events. (Many readers will have experienced being let down on this front: Think the unexpectedly poor networks at Vegas events.)

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At the Ryder Cup, Cole relied on an integrated  private 5G and Wi-Fi network spun – with the 5G component providing “extended range and reliability” for operations staff and the Wi-Fi 6E network furnishing high-capacity connectivity to thousands of fans, "snappers and scribes."

As HPE put it: “The backbone of the network [was] built on 200 HPE Aruba Networking CX switches with… network management providing a single point of visibility and control across the entire network… The private 5G network covers the golf course with one radio mast located in a central location powered by the Athonet Tactical Cube, a compact and mobile private cellular solution for mission-critical applications.

“Private 5G provides backhaul connectivity to solar-powered Wi-Fi access points in more remote parts of the golf course, extending the coverage of the Wi-Fi network without the need for cabling. This is important as, due to archaeological reasons, cables cannot be buried in certain parts of the site. Private 5G also provides a secure, segmented network for delay and capacity sensitive critical operations that need guaranteed bandwidth, such as security, stewarding, and transport.”

Italy had already allocated all 5G spectrum to existing mobile service providers and spectrum is not normally available directly to enterprises, but the Italian Government “made an exception” for the Ryder Cup, with the Ministry of Communications providing access to the 3.8 GHz band.

That spectrum was "perfect for 5G because it can carry plenty of data while traveling significant distances” HPE said gratefully in a press release and adding that “to realize the potential of private 5G around the world, governments can play an important role in empowering enterprises, telcos, and technology vendors by making spectrum available for new, innovative use cases such as at the Ryder Cup…”

“Private 5G brings huge operational benefits in particular, providing us with a fully private network… unaffected by the crowd’s high demand for high-bandwidth applications” Ryder Cup CTO Cole added.

“It gives us full course coverage for cellular devices providing critical services like security, stewarding, ticketing, and scoring that might have otherwise relied on the under pressure local telecoms networks.”

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