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NEC Group transforms visitor facilities at UK venues with Alcatel-Lucent wireless networking

Date: Thu, 01/21/2010 - 18:10

Alcatel-Lucent announced that The NEC (National Exhibition Centre) Group, based in Birmingham, UK, has deployed its wireless technology to improve visitor facilities across the company’s four world-class event and exhibition venues

NEC Group transforms visitor facilities at UK venues with Alcatel-Lucent wireless networking

The NEC Group is becoming an increasingly dynamic enterprise. Last year it completed a major rollout of Alcatel-Lucent’s IP telephony and contact centre solutions, adding to its existing data network. Its recently completed project uses wireless technology to provide extended internet access primarily at the ICC, NIA and LG Arena and in parts of the NEC Group, and boosts the efficiency of its admissions operations through the use of handheld ticket scanning devices.

The following NEC Group venues are now benefiting from the wireless technology:
- The ICC – one of the UK’s most prestigious conference venues, staging more than 300 conference events annually
- LG Arena – a major concert and event venue that sees one million visitors every year
- The NEC – the busiest exhibition centre in Europe, hosting more than 2.3 million visitors each year
- The NIA – a highly flexible arena that can stage sports, concerts, conferences and exhibitions

The NEC Group previously offered limited internet access in areas such as venue cafés and bars. Now the organisation provides exhibitors and guests with high-speed wireless IP connectivity in all public areas outside of the exhibition halls, the two Arenas and the conference halls at the ICC. In order to control usage, venue guests are required to complete a quick online registration before being given internet access.
Furthermore, staff at The NIA, the LG Arena and The NEC equipped with handheld scanning guns can now scan guests’ tickets on entry, rather than conducting time consuming manual ticket checks. The devices connect wirelessly with The NEC Group’s back-end ticketing system to provide near instantaneous ticket verification that allows the organisation to be more flexible regarding the number of admissions staff deployed for different events, as well as increasing entrance speeds.
In addition to the wireless components, the core data switch at The ICC has been replaced with Alcatel-Lucent OmniSwitch LAN technology, providing a more resilient IT experience to both corporate events and ICC employees. This wider installation is central to supporting approximately 200 users’ PCs, more than 400 telephone lines, 51 wireless access points at The ICC and 43 access points at The NIA, 35 tills, exhibitor installation services and digital signage.
“We’ve made a series of investments in the latest communications technologies as part of our venue improvement programme, to differentiate our venues and to meet demand from our customers for more flexible services and facilities,” said Andrew McManus, IT Director, The NEC Group. “Having revamped our ticket office and our internal communications, we also wanted to extend greater internet connectivity to our visitors. Alcatel-Lucent’s solution suited our requirements perfectly, while the use of wireless has allowed several venues to achieve further internal efficiency gains as well.”
To avoid interruption of scheduled events, The NEC Group opted for a phased deployment of its technology upgrade, starting with The ICC in September 2007, and completing the selected parts of the other venues in summer 2009. Furthermore, thanks to the ease-of-deployment offered by the Alcatel-Lucent products, The NEC Group was able to undertake the rollout in-house with its existing IT team.
“The NEC Group maintains its reputation as an operator of world-class venues by continuing to innovate and find new ways to enhance the guest experience,” said David Parker, VP enterprise activities for Alcatel-Lucent UK&I. “This deployment further demonstrates Alcatel-Lucent’s credentials within the hospitality industry, a sector that has been quick to recognise the value of using technology to save money, make money and achieve competitive transformation.”

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