Paul Hassink, IT manager of the RAI and screens a visitor of the IBC convention
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Super-fast internet with Wi-Fi 6, with high visitor numbers

Paul Hassink
Tuesday, 12 September 2023
All RAI Amsterdam visitors and exhibitors enjoy super-fast wireless internet thanks to Wi-Fi 6. Its ability to enable parallel connections means there is no limit to user numbers and internet connections via Wi-Fi 6 are always stable and fast. Now we’re also introducing OpenRoaming, allowing everyone to switch to our speedy Wi-Fi network automatically and securely when entering the premises. Paul Hassink, Product Manager IT of RAI Amsterdam, explains how everything works and which new developments lie ahead.

Wi -Fi is essential at RAI Amsterdam. Events take place in halls constructed from lots of steel that make it difficult for the public 4G and 5G networks to penetrate. The mobile network also becomes slower when there are many users so high-quality Wi-Fi is as important to us as running water. The Wi-Fi 6 network has been operational in the RAI since 2021. And because we wanted to offer people even more user comfort, we added the OpenRoaming option at the start of 2023.

Six-lane motorway
Wi-Fi technology continues to develop, with the most recent step being the upgrade from Wi-Fi 5 to 6. The key difference is that 5 involves a serial system which fills up when there are more users. By contrast, Wi-Fi 6 deploys a parallel technology which means it upholds its speed, even when used by more people. It is like going from a one-lane country road to a six-lane motorway.

Fast wireless internet for all users
This is all great news for users of course, even though they won’t really notice – and that’s a good thing too. When Wi-Fi works properly, people see it as matter-of-course. It also resolves a major issue for exhibitors who previously might like to share their own Wi-Fi networks due to concerns that the general Wi-Fi network would be too slow. All these different networks created disruptions, however. Wi-Fi 6 means fewer exhibitors will need to use their own network as it remains fast and reliable even when there are lots of users. Exhibitors who would still like to deploy their own Wi-Fi network, for instance to facilitate interaction between users in their system, can access one of the two other designated frequencies.

OpenRoaming: the next step
A framework that allows mobile devices to find and connect to a trusted Wi-Fi network, OpenRoaming brings an end to the hassle of having to complete a registration process or add passwords. People are logged on automatically when entering the building and the scheme is completely secure. Although not related to Wi-Fi 6, OpenRoaming enables RAI visitors to use our Wi-Fi 6 network directly. This open industry standard was agreed to by a large number of parties within the World Broadband Alliance (WBA), which aims to make the use of Wi-Fi as easy and secure as possible for everyone.

Even faster with Wi-Fi 6E
Wi-Fi 6 has been around for a while and is now the standard within RAI Amsterdam. We have some 600 Wi-Fi access points in the lettable spaces of the RAI and will reach the 700 mark by the end of the year. This guarantees optimal coverage and we can also temporarily install extra transmitters should more access points be required at some point.

We are now working on upscaling to Wi-Fi 6E, a new frequency that offers even greater options. As an extra motorway built adjacent to the existing six-lane one, it will give us even more capacity and faster speeds. Although Wi-Fi 6E only currently benefits the latest equipment and devices, we like staying ahead of the curve at the RAI.

New developments
OpenRoaming is an option for organisers that makes the Wi-Fi experience of visitors and exhibitors much more user-friendly. We are also working on new developments such as indoor navigation and private 5G. By continuing to invest in our IT solutions, the RAI will keep meeting the demands of all users. For some organisers, that means a very stable, safe and reliable Wi-Fi network, while others are in discussions about new and advanced options. Whatever happens, we are prepared and will always provide solutions that are most in line with the needs of the organisers, exhibitors and visitors.

Please contact us for more information about the technical options related to Wi-Fi, OpenRoaming or other tech facilities in RAI Amsterdam. We will be pleased to help you find the optimal solution.