The Outback, Northern Australia
Difficult location, little Ethernet cabling, no backhaul within the site, high guest expectations.
Q. Can you tell us a bit about the property?
A. The Voyages Ayers Rock Resort is located in the middle of Australia. It is more than 1000 miles from any capital city and situated at Kata Tjuta National Park, in Australia’s Northern Territory. The Resort lies hidden from view to those visiting the National Park precinct. Everything about the Resort reflects sensitivity to the environment and respect for the area’s traditional Aboriginal owners. Huge sails provide shade, solar panels generate power and native trees flourish throughout – the Resort is an architectural achievement.
The Resort provides a variety of accommodation options for every possible taste and budget – from the award winning 5-star Sails in the Desert Hotel, and modern Desert Gardens Hotel, to the self-contained Emu Walk Apartments, the authentic Outback Pioneer Hotel & Lodge & Ayers Rock Campground, offering powered campsites and air conditioned cabins.
Q. As a provider of Wi-Fi, what did you find challenging about this project?
A. We were asked to see what we could do to improve the guest Wi-Fi experience. The biggest problem was that such a large property had no infrastructure for backhaul within the site and then there was little or no Ethernet cable for connecting Access Points. Then there was the problem of the Internet pipe into the site was only about 10Mbps.
Q. So, what technologies did you deploy to address this?
A. After a detailed site survey, we took advantage of existing phone cable to deploy what was then Motorola T3 DSLAM Wi-Fi systems and Ruckus AP’s and Controllers where Ethernet cable was available. To hook up the various sites within the complex we used Ruckus Point to Point bridges and then Ruckus meshing to the very extreme edges of the network. We’ve also worked with the venue to get a Telstra 100Mbps fibre link installed.
Q. Does the site offer free Wi-Fi?
A. Installing all of this infrastructure is not inexpensive for the operator so they’ve chosen to recoup funds by offering multiple plans depending on the site within the site. Some venues offer free Wi-Fi which is rate limited to email and simple browsing where a premium plan offers faster throughput for more demanding applications such as voice and video conferencing.
Q. How do you support such a remote site?
A. Getting to the site takes at least a day so we’ve taken certain steps to mitigate downtime. Firstly we’ve installed a GX2 Gateway (ironically called a Dingo) which gives us remote access to, and alerts from, the switches, the Zebra gear and the Ruckus equipment. We have some spares onsite and a good relationship and understanding with the local IT people who can do swap outs of a component if it breaks.
The secret, though is designing Wi-Fi properly in the first place so that we are confident of coverage. This means that most of the calls we take are from guests who may have some device –specific problems with their tablet, laptop or phone.
To manage the expectation level of today's traveller, it was evident that we had to invest in our Wi-Fi network. If you want to offer an immersive holiday experience it seems obvious that you have to provide the same level of connectedness and speed of access better than what the guest is accustom to, and that's our aim! You have to ensure you have the right infrastructure and systems in place to meet the growing demand whilst flexible to cater for the changing demands of the market. GX2 have been fantastic from install through to support always available and prepared to listen and respond with suggestions which has ultimately translated in our success.
Dominic Borg, Director of Technology
Motorola (Zebra) T3
Ruckus Wireless ZoneDirector
Ruckus 7731 Point to Point Bridges
Ruckus Indoor and Outdoor APs with meshing
DLink managed switches
GX2 HSIA Gateway Appliance
GX2 Uninterruptible Power Supply
GX2 Uninterruptible Power Supply
GX2 24/7 Guest Support