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THE CROKE PARK PROJECT

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Future-proofing the high-capacity solution

Background

Croke Park has been at the heart of Irish sporting life for over a hundred years, serving as the spiritual home of Gaelic Games and the headquarters of the Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA). Following a three-tier re-design in 1991, Croke Park recently embarked on a further €260 million redevelopment, increasing capacity to 82,300 and making it Ireland’s biggest stadium, and Europe’s third-largest stadium after Barcelona’s Nou Camp and London’s Wembley.

Challenges and considerations

As the GAA’s long-standing partner for the previous 15 years, Vilicom was briefed to design a next generation mobile coverage infrastructure to protect, enhance and future-proof Croke Park’s reputation as a world-class 21st century stadium venue.

The system would need to service not only the anticipated upsurge in demand generated by the 1.3 million visitors annually attending the stadium’s sporting events and concerts – and even a Papal visit! – but also the increasingly important corporate events held at the ground.

Croke Park has embraced the trend of driving non-sporting stadium revenue by hosting business seminars and conferences during off-peak times, and it had become clear that the hospitality areas were particularly lacking in coverage.

  • This entailed designing a system that could not only
  • cope with an anticipated wi-fi usage of 300+Gb of data on match days
  • offer network services to 82,300 visitors simultaneously
  • ensure sufficient RF levels across all sectors in the stadium
  • reduce interference and contain the RF signal within the stadium
  • cover the stands, seating bowl, corporate and VIP areas, team and admin areas, vendor areas and access routes
  • capitalize on the existing network infrastructure
  • but also provide sufficient flexibility for future expansion when required
Vilicom delivered a result which has greatly enhanced our visitors’ experience and made Croke Park a fantastic venue to attend.

Alan Gallagher, Head of Croke Park Stadium Operations

Solutions and delivery

Following consultation with our strategic partners and Mobile Operators, Vilicom designed a solution that features:

  • a 39-sector Distributed Antenna System to cover all stadium areas for 4G
  • allowing the flexibility for operators to feed in only the number of cells they initially requirE
  • and enabling further division of cells as traffic growth occurs

The choice of antennae to cover the seating area proved critical to ensuring:

  • optimal coverage footprint
  • minimal overlap
  • reduced interference
  • controlled soft handover areas

Due to the excessively long distances – and therefore RF losses – between the base station equipment and the antennae, the system utilises:

  • RF-to-optical conversion to connect to remote repeater units
  • enabling a multi-operator, dual band 4G system in one repeater unit
  • and thereby simplifying the remote units’ installation and configuration

From the initial proposals to the final design of this current installation, the system capacity has been doubled… twice! And as a strategic partner Vilicom continues to work alongside GAA and Mobile Operators to monitor further increases in traffic growth, optimising and upgrading the system as required.

Contact

For further information or to discuss further technical specs, please contact Gearoid Collins at gearoid.collins@vilicom.com

About Vilicom

Vilicom is an expert provider of wireless services with over seventeen years of experience in the analysis, design, test and implementation of wireless networks. Vilicom’s strengths lie in technology strategy consulting, the design of wireless networks, transmission network design, implementation of specialised coverage solutions and network benchmarking and testing. Vilicom has delivered its trademark end-to-end services in over 20 countries for network operators, network equipment vendors, industry regulators and investors. It delivers value for its customers by adopting a flexible, customer-focused approach, retaining cutting-edge expertise and maintaining its independence.