Fira Barcelona Gran Via Venue at the Forefront of Wi-Fi 6 Deployment in Europe

MWC Barcelona 2020 attendees will enjoy Cisco's Wi-Fi 6 connectivity at Fira Barcelona Gran Via venue.
Susan Fourtané
Fira Barcelona Susan Fourtané 

As 5G network technology hits the mainstream in 2020, Fira Barcelona, the venue hosting MWC Barcelona 2020 from February 24 to 27, has taken another step forward in its commitment to lead the trade show industry toward digitization of services in general in addition to cutting-edge connectivity in particular. With this in mind, Fira Barcelona has begun to deploy Wi-Fi 6 technology in the Gran Via venue.

Thanks to this improvement, the venue that hosts world-leading technological and corporate events such as MWC Barcelona, Cisco Live!, IoT Solutions World Congress, Smart City Expo World Congress, SAP, and VM World will be able to provide the best Wi-Fi network in Europe in the exhibition industry.

The many benefits of this new technology include:

  • 40 percent faster connections

  • Higher data transfer rates

  • Greater energy efficiency that will reduce the battery consumption of every connected device

Fira Barcelona is widely known as one of the most important trade fair institutions in Europe. It is also a recognized Spanish market leader, especially when it comes to trade and industrial shows. Fira Barcelona hosts approximately 150 trade shows, congresses, and corporate events per year with no less than 30,000 exhibitors, both direct and represented, and receives 2.5 million visitors from over 200 countries. 

The institution has some 400,000 m² of exhibition floor space, making it one of the largest in Europe, spread over 2 main venues: Montjuïc and Gran Via. Its annual economic contribution to the city of Barcelona and its surroundings is estimated at over 2,600 million Euros. In addition, it also brings added social and public value. Therefore, offering the latest and fastest Wi-Fi technology connectivity becomes paramount to an institution of this magnitude.

Deployment of Wi-Fi 6 at Fira Barcelona

The deployment of Wi-Fi 6 has already been carried out in three of the eight halls of the venue with 9100 series Access Points from Cisco, a worldwide technology leader and Fira Barcelona's technological partner for Wi-Fi connectivity. Once the implementation is completed, the venue's network will be able to connect 128,000 users simultaneously. Cisco is also the provider of new Cisco Catalyst switches and controllers as well as Cisco DNA Center and Cisco DNA Spaces software technologies to enable innovative network management and analytics.

According to Andreu Vilamitjana, Cisco Spain General Manager, "Wi-Fi 6 and the new Cisco Access Points, switches and controllers will allow to connect more devices with higher quality at Fira’s Gran Vía venue, providing users with an optimized mobile experience and better performance for advanced applications such as 4K video, wireless office, and IoT. It positions Fira at the forefront of public venues for major events such as MWC."

Marc Serra Amau, Director of Venue Services at Fira Barcelona, said that “the new network will not only provide cutting edge connectivity for our visitors and exhibitors but will also make the Gran Via a state-of-the-art smart venue providing a superior connection capacity for Internet of Things (IoT) devices. This will enable new remote management of the venue services and capabilities throughout our premises.”

Another benefit of deploying a Wi-Fi 6 network is going to be the effective recovery of the 2.4 GHz frequency. This is going to allow a greater number of connections to be managed in a more efficient way than the previous Wi-Fi 5 (802.11ac), which only operated in the 5 GHz band, whereas Wi-Fi 6 operates in both bands. 

Wi-Fi 6: The 5G of Wi-Fi technology

wi-fi 6, the 5G of the wireless technology
Wi-Fi 6 will complement 5G technology for wireless telecommunications, Source: YuriyVlasenko/iStock

Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax) is a new wireless standard featuring four times higher data transfer rates in high-density locations, 75 percent lower latency, better coverage, and optimized device battery usage. In addition, with the deployment of dual-antenna Access Points (APs) Fira Barcelona's network will become the perfect venue for very high-density events such as the international shows and conferences hosted by the trade fair institution.

All in all, the arrival and deployment of Wi-Fi 6 and 5G will be simultaneous. Many industry experts agree that these are complementary technologies for wireless telecommunications. While 5G will dominate outdoor connectivity, Wi-Fi 6 will excel and reign, above all, in indoor environments. With Wi-Fi 6 speeds, 100 users, for instance, are going to be able to simultaneously stream a 2-hour movie in HD, all using the same access point.

In addition, in the same way that it happens with 5G, the reduction in latency, which is the delay between sending and receiving a data packet, is significantly obvious. Wi-Fi 6 registers latencies of 1 ms with a maximum of 50 ms in high-density situations where Wi-Fi 5 would record latencies of 400 ms, thus achieving decreases of up to 80 percent.

Technically, IEEE 802.11ax, marketed as Wi-Fi 6 by Wi-Fi Alliance, a non-profit organization that promotes Wi-Fi technology and certifies Wi-Fi products for conformity to certain standards of interoperability, is one of the two Wi-Fi specifications standards of IEEE 802.11; the other is IEEE 802.11ay. They are usually referred to as High-Efficiency Wireless.

In order to improve spectrum efficient utilization, the new version introduces better power-control methods to avoid interference with neighboring networks, orthogonal frequency-division multiple access (OFDMA), higher-order 1024-QAM, and up-link direction added with the down-link of MIMO and MU-MIMO to further increase throughput, as well as dependability improvements of power consumption and security protocols such as Target Wake Time and WPA3.

According to IEEE, Target Wake Time (TWT) may be the first step toward a practical collision-free and deterministic access in future WLANs. WPA3 is the next generation of Wi-Fi security that provides cutting-edge security protocols to the market. 

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