Mobile coverage technology provider Spry Fox Networks, a specialist in supplying systems to enhance commercial cellular and public safety communications in large public buildings, has been selected by Aberdeen City Council to facilitate high-speed voice and data services at the P&J Arena in Aberdeen.
Dubbed the largest entertainment and conference complex in Europe, covering an area of 48,000m2 and costing more than £330m, the recently opened venue comprises a 15,000 capacity arena, three conference and exhibition halls, nine meeting rooms, multipurpose subterranean facilities, a renewable energy centre, plus onsite hotels, associated car parking and a range of restaurants and other public service amenities.
The predominantly subterranean design architecture meant there was zero 4G coverage for the UK’s four main mobile operators in large parts of the venue. Even the main arena had no mobile signal. Not only was this a major inconvenience for attendees and staff, but it posed serious safety and security risks.
Aberdeen Council researched the feasibility of deploying supplementary technology to overcome mobile dead zone challenges and began a procurement process to identify potential suppliers. Spry Fox Networks was finally selected to fulfil the requirement because of its market reputation, expertise in the field and network-agnostic mobile signal booster product range.
The mobile coverage system is based on the Cel-Fi Quatra, an intelligent signal booster developed by smart signal booster technology specialist Nextivity to overcome dropped call, poor voice quality and low data throughput challenges, caused by weak indoor mobile signals. As well as delivering 4G connectivity for bandwidth-hungry data applications, Cel-Fi Quatra is designed to ensure ubiquitous mobile coverage for safety-critical communications in the event of an emergency situation.
Also part of the system is Spry Fox Networks’ QuantumPath assurance technology, which allows monitoring of mobile signal strength and quality, along with voice and data performance, for mobile network operators.
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The system was initially intended to be installed at the arena in a one-off deployment to support the BBC’s Sports Personality of the Year event in December 2019, but Aberdeen Council has decided to retain the system. It will be used to provide voice and data coverage for a range of concerts and events, including Lewis Capaldi, the Strictly Come Dancing Live Tour and the Elton John Yellow Brick Road Tour.
Steven Robertson, digital transformation manager at Aberdeen City Council, said: “The state-of-the-art P&J Live Arena represents Aberdeen City Council’s largest single investment to date and the city is now able to attract events of a scale and calibre that had not been previously possible. Sports Personality of the Year is a high-profile event, for which flawless communications are essential. Spry Fox Networks has delivered a great solution in a very short period of time. The P&J Live Arena is now able to offer the best experience for attendees and staff alike.”