Historic Queen Mary sail into the tech age with Smart Wi-Fi
2009-09-01 · By Editor
Ruckus Wireless was selected to supply advanced, Smart Wi-Fi products and technology for the Queen Mary, one of the world’s most historic ships, now permanently docked in Long Beach, California.
Hotel Internet Services (HIS) and Queen Mary IT staff deployed Ruckus ZoneFlex Smart wireless LAN (WLAN) products, enabling wireless connectivity from any of the hotel’s guestrooms and common areas in order to support the ship’s more than three million yearly visitors.
Previously, metallic walls and other unfriendly RF obstacles on the Queen Mary made the deployment of Wi-Fi effectively impossible. The information technology teams chose Ruckus Wireless for its unique ability to extend signal range and overcome wireless challenges such as RF interference and impenetrable obstacles.
“Visitors are now coming on board with all kinds of wireless-enabled handheld devices and expect a Wi-Fi signal,” said Edgar Stevens, IT systems analyst for the Queen Mary. “Having previously tested Wi-Fi aboard ship, we were unable to get it to work properly without having to deploy a huge number of APs. The Queen Mary is effectively a massive box built with metal walls and all sorts of nooks and crannies. This makes using any kind of wireless technology extremely challenging.”
The Queen Mary and Wi-Fi: A History of Frustration
The Queen Mary, which had crossed the Atlantic Ocean 1,001 times, before docking permanently in 1967, now serves as a luxury hotel and convention center. Amenities include restaurants, exhibits, tours and 14 Art Deco salons. Entered into service in 1936, ship builders considered its design and electrical system to be state of the art. Today, in its role as one of the world’s best known attraction and hotel destinations, these same design and electrical attributes cause unique, and previously insurmountable problems for providing high-speed Internet access services for the ship’s business and leisure guests.
With more than a million square feet of space, 314 guest rooms, conference facilities, restaurants, meeting rooms and other common areas, the Queen Mary has only been able to offer broadband access through its existing power infrastructure on the ship. This requires guests to check out special powerline adapters to connect laptops and other devices.
“We looked long and hard at Wi-Fi but found it would have required more than 90 APs from competitive vendors just to support the hotel and conference space,” said Gary Patrick, president and CEO of Hotel Internet Services, a leading provider of wireless systems and integration services across the hospitality industry. “To be honest, given the high performance and ability of Ruckus Wireless products to overcome interference, and our previous experiences with Ruckus deployments, we expected them to test out well. When our testing showed we could set up the entire Wi-Fi network using one-third the number of APs, we were pleasantly surprised.”
HIS designed, installed and provides ongoing management and maintenance of the Queen Mary’s Wi-Fi infrastructure. “Having a reliable wireless network eliminates a lot of the headaches for front desk staff who previously had to check powerline adapters in and out, as well as dealing with customer support issues. Beyond that we’ve seen an increase in revenue in the very short time the Wi-Fi service has been available,” added Patrick.
According to HIS, in the first two weeks after deploying the Ruckus Smart Wi-Fi system, the Queen Mary saw the connection rate double compared to its existing powerline solution, and without advertising the availability of the Wi-Fi service.
Wif-Fi Deployment Finds Success on Board
HIS and the Queen Mary are now offering high-performance Wi-Fi connectivity to all hotel guests, conventioneers and visitors. HIS conceived and installed the ship’s wireless solution, using a third of the number of Ruckus Smart Wi-Fi access points at the fraction of the cost of other solutions.
HIS installed 33 Ruckus ZoneFlex 2942 802.11g Smart Wi-Fi APs across three decks of the Queen Mary to provide complete coverage to all guest rooms, convention areas, meeting space, and other public areas. Redundant ZoneDirector 1000 controllers provide easy administration of the entire wireless environment from a central point.
The Ruckus ZoneFlex Smart Wi-Fi solution installed on the Queen Mary automatically steers Wi-Fi signals around interference to provide extended range and higher capacity coverage. The system delivers consistent performance, enabling visitors, guests and the numerous shops and services on the ship to access the Internet without the worry of limited range, performance or interference. The Ruckus system constantly readjusts Wi-Fi transmissions to overcome obstacles in the surrounding environment to provide the best throughput for each user.