Manchester Central Convention Complex

Case study

The Client

Manchester Central is an award-winning venue with the capacity to handle intimate corporate functions and large-scale conferences or exhibitions. The historic architecture and state-of-the-art facilities provide the perfect venue for some of the world’s leading events and its vaulted arches and station clock have made Manchester Central an iconic city feature for over 130 years.

Facilities include the purpose-built 804-seat Exchange Auditorium; the 1800m² exhibition, conference and 10,000-capacity theatre space Exchange Halls.

Issues / The Challenge

Many event venues experience similar issues when it comes to connectivity and striving to provide a reliable internet connection for visitors, and Manchester Central were no exception.

Common problems with WiFi at event venues include drop-outs and speed issues across WiFi networks and with a variety of devices. Manchester Central were experiencing similar frustrations and were seeking a specialist who could solve these problems so that the venue could continue to deliver a positive visitor experience, allowing guests to stream, post, capture and share from their devices during their time at the popular venue.

Manchester Central contacted Performance Networks and sought advice on where to begin. Following an initial meeting, Performance Networks were commissioned to conduct a wireless site survey covering the Manchester venue.

The existing hardware used onsite was enterprise grade dual-band Ruckus Access Points (APs), with an onsite controller.

Survey Results

Performance Networks used Ekahau Site survey/Spectrum Analysis & Wireshark captures to determine what was happening at the venue.

What did this show?

  • Signal strength was good in all areas, in fact, it was too strong, which was causing interference
  • Heavy WiFi interference was recorded. The 2.4GHz band was very congested as usual, but so was the 5GHz band due to sub-optimal configuration
  • Sub-optimal placement and mounting of Access Points. This meant the Access Points weren’t always covering the areas they were meant to and contributing to excessive Co-Channel interference. This was shown using coverage maps per AP
  • Roaming issues – clients “hanging on” & not roaming to the correct AP
  • Low data rates and old standards being supported
  • Too many clients using the 2.4GHz range
  • The Main Hall could not support the number of people and devices that were required for their large conference/events

The Solution

Performance Networks made multiple recommendations off the back of the initial survey and were commissioned to provide a new design for the main hall. Working alongside Manchester Central’s on-site IT team, the solution was implemented.

Following the new network design, we have been back to Manchester Central to ensure there were no WiFi issues during several of their major conferences, including the Conservative party conference 2019. We have also helped the venue amend their policies and procedures for exhibitors, with the goal of reducing the negative effect they can have on the venue WiFi performance.
All events ran smoothly, and the venue were very happy with the significant improvement. We are now involved with further design work to improve their wired network.

David Ballard

Technical Director at Performance Networks - Project Lead

Client comments

From the first point of contact Performance Networks have been amazing. They are extremely knowledgeable when it comes to networks and WiFi and are able to turn a complex topic into something simple and easy to understand. I can't recommend them enough to anyone who needs a new network or is experiencing performance or connectivity issues with their existing network

Steven Bennett

Head of IT

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