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McCormick Place, the largest convention and meeting facility in North America, completed an Internet and Wi-Fi upgrade, representing a significant change in its business model for providing these services to attendees, exhibitors and show management.

McCormick Place“This Wi-Fi upgrade is part of a larger overall plan designed to enhance the customer experience at McCormick Place,” said David Causton, general manager, McCormick Place. “We are proud of the fact that today over 45,000 users can connect to the system at once, which is critical in a world where exhibitors and attendees now carry multiple Wi-Fi enabled devices on a regular basis.”

Upgrades have been made to the Wi-Fi system throughout the entire convention center. McCormick Place will continue offering complimentary basic Wi-Fi service throughout all public spaces, meeting rooms, and ballrooms and designated areas on the exhibit floor. It will also offer a variety of price points and service levels for guests with greater Wi-Fi needs.

New Simplified Pricing Structure

The changes include a simplified Internet pricing structure for show management for facility-wide buyouts and for high-density applications that are feasible for large and small events. The new model allows customers to let the facility provide for their needs through service-defined offerings and adjust or increase coverage as needed rather than charge for bandwidth and equipment deployments and then charge again if changes are required.

“We have tested the new pricing model with a number of 2013 shows, and the feedback has been fantastic,” said Anthony Lopez, assistant general manager of operations, McCormick Place. “The new pricing includes improved wired services, which in some cases reflects a 40 percent savings over previous pricing. Show managers really appreciate the cost savings and the ease with which they can order services.”

Infrastructure

The new wireless infrastructure consists of state-of-the-art Cisco and Xirrus hardware with support for up to 45,000 concurrent users facility-wide serving from 800 permanently mounted Cisco 3602i and 3602e access points. In addition, the facility has the capability to utilize rapid deployment kits by Xirrus (XR-7620 arrays) or additional Cisco access points in the need for planned or last-minute high-density demands. McCormick Place also installed a separate redundant Internet circuit to ensure uninterrupted service to customers.

“No longer do shows have to spend time and resources on infrastructure planning,” said Ken Schmidt, technology services manager, McCormick Place. “Now customers can simply let us know their attendee count, desired service level and any areas of high-density concern and we do the rest. We will work with customers to help identify areas of need and provide solutions that ensure a great experience.”

Transition

While much of the improvements are currently in place and ready for customer use, all services and improvements will be available facility-wide beginning March 31, 2014. Events that have already completed their ordering process or received exhibitor kits will be allowed to use the previous model unless they request to change to the new services and models.

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