Wireless network draws visitors through castle walls

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Wireless network draws visitors through castle walls

Warwick Ashford

Ireland's Office of Public Works (OPW) has implemented a high-powered wireless network and external link to overcome connectivity challenges at the 12th century Kilkenny Castle and provide high speed internet access to staff and visitors.

The castle, now home to an art gallery, conference centre, a branch of the OPW and 60 staff, was difficult to connect internally because of its status as a world heritage site. This placed severe restrictions on modifying the structure or appearance of the building.

"We wanted to help boost staff productivity and increase revenues from the conference centre, where guests expected high-speed internet connectivity," said Paul Smith, project manager for the OPW.

The only external link to the castle was through a dial-up internet connection, but this was too slow to meet the needs of those working at the castle and using the conference centre.

"Although a wireless network was an obvious solution, this also had challenges because of the castle's thick walls and irregular layout across six floors in three separate wings," said Smith.

Dimension Network Systems solved the problem by using a combination of Motorola wireless technologies of different ranges to provide internal connectivity of 11gbps across 90% of the castle and a 20gps link to the outside world via the local OPW headquarters.

"We chose Motorola products because of their ability to provide a strong enough signal across the whole site as well as their easy to learn user interface to enable quick transfer to the OPW," said Larry Skinner, technical director at Dimension Network Systems.

Skinner's team used Motorola WS5100 switches and Wi-Fi access points to provide unobtrusive coverage at the castle and Motorola high-power PTP 400 Ethernet bridges to link various parts of the site as well as provide long-range external connectivity.

"The wireless access points were easily hidden from view and installation was completed in only four days without disrupting guided tours of the castle," said Smith.

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