Lepida S.c.p.A.

Aruba architecture ensures free high-performance Wi-Fi coverage for over 36,000 spectators at Dall’Ara Stadium

Lepida ScpA is a subsidiary of the Emilia Romagna Region in Italy, and is the principal operator for the implementation of the region’s ICT plan which outlines the Emilia Romagna ICT strategies and policies. Lepida’s key functions are to define the broadband network strategies for regional public entities and to plan, develop and manage unified and homogenous telecommunication network infrastructures. The strive to ensure the seamless delivery of ICT services, including network architectures, and deliver online services and innovative ways for enhancing public administration operations, such as cloud infrastructures.

Lepida has chosen Aruba to provide the Renato Dall’Ara Stadium in Bologna with their wireless infrastructure and service architecture.

Named after the historic President of Bologna Football Club 1909, the facility with more than 36 thousand seats and located at about three kilometres from the city centre is the largest sport venue in Bologna and one of the best in Italy and Europe in terms of draining and compactness of the green turf.

A very high-density challenge for Lepida

While waiting for a long-announced restyling, in July 2018 Lepida equipped the Dall’Ara Stadium with a network of over 180 HotSpots through the implementation of Aruba 7220 Mobility Controllers and Aruba AP-277 and AP-325 Access Points.

Aruba is a technology that LEPIDA has already used in the regional territory and considers as solid and reliable. Moreover, we value Aruba’s position as a leader in the Gartner Magic Quadrant.
The close collaboration between our technical team and Aruba has allowed us to successfully complete the project most efficiently.
Gianluca Mazzini, General Manager, Lepida S.c.p.A.

Lepida was able to benefit from their existing stock of over 4,000 ultra-wide band Aruba Instant access points, already deployed by throughout the Emilia Romagna Region. This is part of the region’s free Internet access project that, by 2020, will provide all public places – from Piacenza to Rimini – with easy and free online access. This project was to enable compliance with a regional law passed in 2016 which ensures 24-hour, 365-day online access with no authentication for everyone in the region. The fact that Aruba Instant APs can easily be converted and be used in a Controller-Based architecture, meant that Lepida already had the certified products and stock and could meet the needs of Dall’Ara more efficiently.

“The wireless coverage of the Dall’Ara Stadium,” says Gianluca Mazzini, General Manager of Lepida ScpA, “has allowed us to also deal with very high density challenges. The Wi-Fi coverage has been extended also to the locker room, the Premium Areas on the Terrazza Bernardini and the Sky Box that houses the pressroom for journalists during matches”.

The challenge

Opened in 1927, the oval-shaped Dall’Ara Stadium, already renovated several times, is placed under the supervision of the Fine Arts Department that supervises this kind of historical venue. As a listed structure therefore, it was necessary to pay strict attention to the positioning of the Aruba Access Points in order to obtain the maximum coverage and remedy any interference, while respecting the architecture and its integrity.

Difficulties faced and managed

To overcome the difficulties of coverage due to the stadium structural restrictions, it was necessary to manage the access points through centralised Aruba Mobility Controllers to ensure the efficiency of each individual access point by limiting the number clients they serve to 100-150.

“Lepida’s objective,” confirms the Gianluca Mazzini, “is to provide the Dall’Ara visitors with an aggregate connectivity of 10Gbit/s but, beyond the performance guarantee, what we are expecting from this experiment is the possibility to learn about the problems and difficulties to be addressed in densely populated venues. We have to deal with interference by other structures, higher density and video traffic than what we are used to facing, for instance, in public parks”.

Choosing the right technology partner

The choice of the Aruba Mobile First architecture has enabled Emilia Romagna to be one of the first Italian regions in terms of infrastructural services. Aruba’s access points have been chosen by Lepida to cover both the Dall’Ara Stadium’s indoor and outdoor structures.

“Our choice has been influenced,” states Lepida ScpA’s General Manager, “by the thirteenth-year-in-a-row reconfirmation of Aruba among the leaders in the Gartner Magic Quadrant for Wired and Wireless LAN Access Infrastructures, as well as by the simple procedure of selecting the channel from which the apparatuses we are using can be acquired”.

In particular, Lepida’s technicians have benefited from next generation networking platforms optimised for mobile applications and video streaming and are able to ensure the best experience in terms of Wi-Fi connection for the end-users. Moreover, thanks to central management and clustering capabilities, the 7200-series Mobility Controllers allow the roll-out of a very large network with hundreds of APs by small staff. The Aruba AirWave management platform provides visibility on all the network through real time monitoring, reporting (also with historical data handling) and troubleshooting.

The Aruba 270-series out-door APs are designed to withstand extreme conditions while providing performance comparable to that of a wired connection.

In particular, thanks to the Aruba ClientMatch™ technology, which dynamically optimises the client Wi-Fi performance with reference to users’ movements or changing radio-frequency conditions, the AP-270 series allows to load web pages more quickly and view video streams with a higher quality, even with high client densities.

Ongoing Innovation

In order to meet the requirements typically associated with the video streaming at the stadium, a high-performance services has been implemented in the Premium Areas on the Terrazza Bernardini and of the Sky Box that houses the pressroom for journalists during matches. Here, as in the stadium locker room, a 10Gbit connection has been ensured, while the performance guaranteed for clients in the curved sectors is limited to 2Mbit/s and is increased up to 50Mbit/s for clients in the covered areas.

The installation of the Aruba Controllers and Access Points was carried out in July and we are now completing, in collaboration with Aruba technicians, the fine-tuning of the coverage to provide the best surfing experience during sports events.

With the Dall’Ara Stadium, the largest sport venue in Bologna with 36 thousand seats, Lepida is continuing a pilot project which will allow them to accompany the Stadium in their transformation journey over the next 2-3 years. “This way,” states Mazzini, “it is possible to provide differentiated connectivity services, with simultaneous transmission to several devices, maximizing data throughputs and improving the network efficiencies in a very challenging structure such as that of the Dall’Ara Stadium”.

Looking to the future, the multifunction wireless Aruba AP-320 series access points, offer embedded Aruba BLE Beacons preparing the ground for location-based services such as wayfinding and commercial notification aimed at providing richer and more immersive visitor experiences and a more intimate engagement with fans.