Ruckus Wireless has announced that for the third straight year, its patented Smart WiFi products and technology are once again powering the WiFi services being offered at the internationally renowned Sundance Film Festival, which is expected to attract an estimated 45 000 patrons over the event’s 10-day run. 
Taking place from 17 to 27 January 2013, in Park City, Salt Lake City, Ogden and Sundance, Utah, the festival will feature an expanded, high-performance public WiFi network enabled with the latest Smart WiFi technology from Ruckus Wireless.
Festival organisers are using the Ruckus Smart WiFi network to support their own mobile applications, offload data traffic from the local cellular network, and to provide high-speed Internet access to a growing number of movie goers armed with mobile devices like smartphones and tablets.
Offered as a free service to Festival attendees, the high-speed WiFi network is being made available at 15 official festival venues, including indoor and outdoor theatres in multiple cities. Many of the venues include wait list tents and ticket holder queues outside, where movie goers will be waiting for the next showing, and can access Festival content over the WiFi network while they wait.
“Mobility is a key theme at this year’s Festival, and our WiFi network will take centre stage,” says Justin Simmons, associate director of Technology Services at Sundance Institute.
“Not only do we expect to see a sharp rise in the number of mobile devices in use, we’ll also be live-streaming many events this year for people to watch on their handhelds.”
Additionally, with the prevalence of social media, people are sharing more photos and videos than ever before at the festival.
Simmons noted that to give patrons the type of experience they expect at a high profile event such as the Sundance Film Festival, they needed a robust, carrier-class WiFi network capable of supporting the high-volume demand.
“Deploying our own infrastructure gives us more control. That said, we really needed a carrier-class WiFi system that delivers the concurrent capacity and high-speed experience that users are now demanding. Conventional WiFi systems aren’t designed for power users. Ruckus has continually proven to deliver a reliable wireless experience to our visitors.  And they can never to seem to get enough.”
The entire WiFi network across all Festival venues includes 100 Ruckus ZoneFlex indoor and outdoor access points (APs), comprised of: 66 ZoneFlex 7962 and 14 ZoneFlex 7363802.11n dual-band indoor APs; 18 ZoneFlex 7762 802.11n outdoor dual-band APs; two ZoneFlex 2741 outdoor 802.11g APs; and two long-range ZoneFlex 7731802.11n point-to-point bridges for backhaul.
A new Zone Director 3100 wireless LAN (WLAN) controller with a 100Mbps connection provides central management at Sundance Institute’s data centre for all of the remote sites, eliminating the need to have individual, local controllers at each site.
Sundance Institute Technology Services staff will remotely manage the entire indoor/outdoor WiFi network over a private IP network using the Ruckus ZoneFlex management system, housed 60 miles away from many of the access points (APs).
The Festival is utilising Park City’s fibre optic backbone and the Comcast local fibre and coaxial network to backhaul WiFi traffic from each site through connections ranging from 25Mbps to 100Mbps.
A key driver for this year’s WiFi infrastructure at the Festival is the anticipated increase in the number of tablets that will be used by attendees.
“Last year we saw a sharp increase in the overall number of devices being used, consuming about 25% more bandwidth than the previous year. With the greater number of tablets, combined with our mobile app – we expect to see data traffic skyrocket. Obviously, this type of usage will put huge demands on WiFi, given the constraints of local cellular networks.”
Simmons noted that in 2011 the WiFi network offloaded a daily average of 220Gb of 3G/4G cellular traffic, which increased in 2012 to a daily average of roughly 290Gb, or 2,9Tb of data over the 10-day event. “This year we expect to offload upwards of 350Gb of data traffic each day,” he says.
APs will also be deployed at the New Frontier and Filmmaker Lodge venues, where patrons can meet filmmakers and attend panel discussions about the movies being showcased. Additionally, the Ruckus-powered WiFi network will include APs at Festival Headquarters, located at the Park City Marriott, where more than 2,200 event staff and volunteers will be working.
Ruckus ZoneFlex Smart WiFi technology provides a number of features that will help make this mobile environment at the Festival work. For some venues where Ethernet cabling doesn’t exist, the Festival will leverage Ruckus SmartMeshing Networking capabilities to enable wireless connectivity.
For resiliency, Sundance Institute is using Ruckus long-range 802.11n point-to-point bridges to provide high-speed wireless backup from the Park City Marriott to its headquarters three miles away.
In addition to the high density of visitors expected to interact with their free mobile app, Sundance Institute is hosting a number of live-streaming events that they will encourage and expect patrons to view from their mobile devices leveraging the WiFi network.
The extensive list of events this year includes interviews with filmmakers, panel discussions about the films, the Festival opening day press conference, and other live-streamed video content.
“Given the stellar performance Ruckus equipment has delivered for us the past two years, we’re certain our network will perform flawlessly again this year and set a new precedent for future Festivals. Ruckus Wireless continues to provide us with the kind of WiFi technology that enables us to find new ways to continue to improve the user experience at our Festival,” Simmons concludes.