By Seán O’Halloran, President and Managing Director, Alcatel-Lucent Australia
At 3pm on the first Tuesday in November, Australia stops… to watch a horse race.
Seems crazy, I know, but if you’re familiar with Australia’s love of sports and even bigger love for major sports events, it starts to make sense. Take a look at Telstra’s national internet traffic stats at race time and it becomes a fact hard to ignore.
So the popular saying is true: The Melbourne Cup, one of the world’s great handicap turf races, is the race that stops the nation.
But the Melbourne Cup is more than just a single race. In fact, it’s a week-long carnival, incorporating four days of racing that each attract up to 100,000 people to the famed Flemington Racecourse. It’s a festival of fashion, food and, of course, some of the world’s best thoroughbred horse racing.
And while Telstra noted a momentary dip in national traffic as the Melbourne Cup was run, there was no expectation that the thousands of on-course fans would reduce their demand. Australians are among the world’s most energetic consumers of smart mobile devices (check out Telsyte’s market study), and as is the case around the globe, keeping connected has become very much part of the big event experience.
For this reason, Telstra has looked at new ways to add capacity for major events and this year worked with Alcatel-Lucent to trial 3G lightRadio W-CDMA Metro Cell small cells throughout the ‘Birdcage’ VIP hospitality area of Flemington. We installed seven lightRadio small cells, which our teams worked with Telstra to integrate with its 3G and 4G enabled Next G track-side network. The results effectively doubled available wireless network capacity throughout the Birdcage area, and helped deliver a better experience for Telstra mobile customers throughout the Melbourne Cup Carnival.
Given the kind of traffic trends we now see at major events (read Telstra’s announcement for the AFL Grand Final) and in densely populated areas of our cities, I’m sure this type of integrated network approach is something we’ll see more of in the future. It’s exactly the type of approach that Alcatel-Lucent’s innovation and customer approach is designed to enable.
While we’ll continue to work with our customers to keep up with demand, the question remains exactly what that demand will be in the future. Just as the Melbourne Cup will remain very much part of the Australian sporting and cultural calendar, it’s clear that in the future personal connectivity and network interaction will continue to be part of the big event agenda.
As they say, we’re off and racing and its now our challenge to stay the course to make sure users can enjoy the experience they expect in the future.
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