Olympics Wi-Fi will be ‘an unmitigated disaster’

The Wi-Fi at the Olympic Park will be a disaster due to a lack of collaboration, an industry player claims.


Wi-Fi at the London Olympics site will be "an unmitigated disaster" thanks to the closed-off planning of the project, IT Pro has been told.

Sean Larner, vice president of international sales at wireless access point (AP) manufacturer Xirrus, said vendors should have been allowed to come together to create the best solution, rather than let the contracted supplier BT run the show.

Another major industry player, from a company that wished to remain anonymous, said they had similar concerns over the management of the project.

Right now, cast iron guarantee it won't work.

Advertisement - Article continues below
Advertisement - Article continues below

The Olympic Park site is nearly completed yet the Wi-Fi arrangements remain shrouded in mystery, with providers reticent about operations.

"It would have been far better for the vendors of wireless, both at the front end and back end at the wired side, if we'd just downed competitive talks and worked together to make sure we could provide a proper wireless infrastructure, a proper wireless network, for the Olympics," Larner said.

"Right now, cast iron guarantee it won't work... Our technical solution would have been to have sat down with the other providers and actually designed a network between ourselves so you had something that works."

Xirrus is doing work at the Olympics, but not at the main site. It will be supplying the APs for the Dutch team's base.

Larner claimed the company did not bid for work at the main site. He said his opinions were based on what Xirrus partners had said. The company has worked with the likes of Orange and provided Wi-Fi for major tech conferences including Salesforce.com's Dreamforce event.

As for whether the situation would be reversible, Larner claimed it was "too late."

Advertisement - Article continues below

"We've waited too long, people are laying down plans, you've got the APs being deployed in certain areas," he added.

"Unless you have someone who can really contain the wireless network... youre going to find yourself with journalists, consumers, whoever, who are just going to have a bad experience."

He claimed simple physics would be behind failures at the Olympics, claiming he did not believe a pure 5GHz or a pure 2.4GHz service the two bands of spectrum used by Wi-Fi - would be provided.

"They're walking into a real headache. They haven't chosen the right means of providing the right kinds of wireless technology based on the requirements of the events," Larner added.

Advertisement - Article continues below

BT and Locog, the private body organising the 2012 Games, were fairly quiet in response to Larner's claims and the concerns raised by other major industry players to IT Pro.

"Discussions are ongoing and we are working closely with Locog to look at Wi-Fi access at the Olympic Park. Announcements will be made soon," a BT spokesperson said.

Advertisement - Article continues below

Locog said it was still working on the Wi-Fi at the Olympic Park, which covers various areas of East London.

Neither would comment on whether the discussions had left out other, potentially valuable, providers.

Bjorn Thorngren, director for EMEA at Boingo Wireless, urged Wi-Fi operators to get going on plans immediately.

"It is important that Hotspot operators start now, at the latest, to conclude access network upgrades in time for the Olympics," he told IT Pro.

"Equally important is to consider the authentication and security piece of the Wi-Fi network, in terms of carriers managing excessive auto log-on attempts from smartphones and the security implications around an event like the Olympics where terrorist threats are feared."

Locog came under fire this week, after the organisation was accused of being overly secretive about how many tickets were being sold and at what cost. Locog has refused to provide a detailed breakdown of such data.

Featured Resources

What you need to know about migrating to SAP S/4HANA

Factors to assess how and when to begin migration

Download now

Your enterprise cloud solutions guide

Infrastructure designed to meet your company's IT needs for next-generation cloud applications

Download now

Testing for compliance just became easier

How you can use technology to ensure compliance in your organisation

Download now

Best practices for implementing security awareness training

How to develop a security awareness programme that will actually change behaviour

Download now


Policy & legislation

Government announces review of IR35 off-payroll changes

8 Jan 2020

Most Popular

Microsoft Windows

What to do if you're still running Windows 7

14 Jan 2020
data governance

Brexit security talks under threat after UK accused of illegally copying Schengen data

10 Jan 2020
operating systems

17 Windows 10 problems - and how to fix them

13 Jan 2020

Dell XPS 13 (New 9300) hands-on review: Chasing perfection

14 Jan 2020