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RAI Amsterdam deploys Wi-Fi 6, OpenRoaming to enhance conferencing experiences

OpenRoaming technology sees deployment in one of Europe’s largest exhibition facilities to connect delegates, exhibitors and attendees automatically and secure Wi-Fi with faster attach rates

The RAI Amsterdam Convention Centre has upgraded its Wi-Fi 6 network to support WBA OpenRoaming, in an effort to simplify user experience and enable exhibitors, attendees and event staff to seamlessly connect to a secure, high-quality network.

Available at more than a million hotspots worldwide, OpenRoaming from global wireless ecosystem consortium Wireless Broadband Alliance (WBA) claims to have become the global standard that Wi-Fi network owners, service providers and others are adding to free users from the need to constantly re-register or re-enter log-in credentials – all while maintaining enterprise-grade security. OpenRoaming supporters include Agreefy, AT&T, Boingo, Charter, Cisco, CityRoam, Cloud4Wi, Comcast, Deutsche Telekom, GlobalReach, Google, Intel, Marriott, MiniMe Labs, SingleDigits and WeFi.

Convention centres, stadiums, arenas and other large-scale public venues are increasingly deploying WBA OpenRoaming to simplify the wireless experience, enabling people to log in only once and then have their smartphone, tablet or laptop automatically connect every time they return to an OpenRoaming-enabled hotspot. 

Located at the Europaplein in the south of Amsterdam, the RAI has been hosting events for 125 years. At the centre of a transport hub that comprises trams, a railway and a metro network less than five years old, the RAI currently offers more than 110,000 m2 of space, divided over 12 multifunctional halls and lounges. Every year, the RAI hosts an average of 1.5 million guests, from meetings with 10 people to centre-filling fairs and conferences of 50,000.

In 2021, the RAI deployed a Wireless Wi-Fi 6 network from WBA leading member Cisco throughout the complex’s main halls, restaurants and auditoriums, designed to support the most demanding high-density use cases. Using Cisco Spaces, the RAI was also able to utilise the wireless network to monitor occupancy levels for space utilisation planning and locate people and things within the centre.

Less than two years later, at the Wireless Global Congress EMEA event held at the RAI Amsterdam Convention Centre, the Wireless Broadband Alliance federation members partnered with Cisco to deliver the first OpenRoaming Live experience, with multiple identity providers able to connect their customers seamlessly.

Throughout the four-day event, more than 1,139 unique users automatically connected to the network, without needing usernames or passwords. These users also collectively consumed more than a terabyte of data, which, said the WBA, highlighted Wi-Fi 6’s unique ability to provide high speeds to multiple users simultaneously.

Read more about OpenRoaming

In February 2023, Cisco held its annual regional customer event, Cisco Live Europe, at the RAI event centre, where more than 18,000 attendees had access to seamless and secure Wi-Fi connectivity from OpenRoaming. Multiple IDs were accepted from carriers and device manufacturers.

The preferred ID was the Cisco Live App, which integrates with OpenRoaming via the Cisco Spaces SDK. Over the four-day event, attendees spent an average of six hours on the OpenRoaming network and consumed more than 77 terabytes of data.

Commenting on the deployment, RAI Amsterdam IT manager Bret Baas said: “For conferences, trade shows and other events, high-performance Wi-Fi has become as critical as electricity. That’s why we’re continually investing to make our Wi-Fi network among the best in the world. With Wi-Fi 6 and OpenRoaming, high-quality connectivity is always available. And in the near future, we’ll be raising the bar again with an upgrade to Wi-Fi 6E, so we can leverage next-gen capabilities such as deterministic Wi-Fi to deliver an even better experience.”

Tiago Rodrigues, CEO of the Wireless Broadband Alliance, added: “Nearly 10,000 convention centres, arenas and stadiums worldwide have deployed Wi-Fi throughout their venues because it’s the preferred way that people stay connected during trade shows and conferences. The RAI Amsterdam Convention Centre is on the leading edge of this trend, first with Wi-Fi 6 and now with OpenRoaming. As a result, the RAI is a case study in how venues can leverage OpenRoaming to provide the kind of secure, convenient and seamless connectivity that attracts marquee events.”

“WBA OpenRoaming provides users with a seamless and secure way to connect to wireless networks without the need for complex usernames and passwords,” said Cisco Wireless chief technology officer Matt MacPherson.

“Together with Cisco and the WBA, conference centres around the world can start exploring the future of connectivity. It’s no longer just about connecting people and devices, but about creating unique, personalised and immersive experiences for attendees. It all starts with the network.”

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