Microsoft Tech Ed hosts Europe's largest WLAN

The Wireless LAN set up for Microsoft's developer conference in Barcelona supported 7000 devices, and transferred 83GB of data in one day, according to the company

Visitors to Microsoft's Tech Ed developer event this week have been online wherever they are in Barcelona's Monjuic 2 conference centre, thanks to Europe's biggest ever wireless LAN, set up in just three days by Orinoco, the wireless LAN company which Agere recently agreed to sell to Proxim.

"The traffic has been extreme, with 25,000 emails in one day," said Mario Maas, senior business manager of Orinoco, EMEA. The network of eighty 802.11b base stations was installed in three days, by two people, but not everything went smoothly.

On the first day the network suffered problems because some adjacent stations used the same channel number, according to wireless commentator Guy Kewney, who publishes Guy Kewney's Mobile Campaign. This caused channel overlap, which meant that delegates' systems could roam to a different base station simply by shifting in their seats, causing a break in service. With that problem fixed, the network is now a "triumph", said Kewney.

The conference attracted 5500 delegates, most of whom either brought their own wireless devices, or hired cards and/or HP Ipaqs on arrival. Many have two wireless devices, said Maas.

The network was built with more than half a million dollars' worth of equipment. Orinoco loaned out 3000 cards, while Compaq contributed 1000 of the same cards, which it sells under its own brand. Compaq loaned 20 Orinoco-made base stations, and other 60 came direct from Orinoco. The whole network was managed with a new wireless LAN management product, running at Orinoco's stand.

Over the LAN, delegates have been able to surf the Net, connect to their office LANs, access conference materials, make schedules and make contact with nearby "buddies" through a chat system. Orinoco has made wireless LAN for previous shows in the US, and will build one for Microsoft's IT Forum event in Copenhagen this October.

"It has given us huge exposure," said Maas. "Everyone at the show will take home a positive attitude to wireless LANs, instead of just the few that visit our stand. "It's a true hot spot," added global marketing manager Linda Schulte.

Networks and networking products have seen huge innovation and growth in the last few years. High bandwidth LANs and Storage Area Networks are now in common use. ZDNet UK's Networking Central keeps you up to date with the latest news and views.

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