Connecting Thousands of People for Charity

By David Island   June 17, 2021

The Cattlemen’s Ball of Nebraska is a 501(c)(3) charity whose mission is to raise money for cancer research. Ninety percent of the profits benefit the Fred & Pamela Buffett Cancer Center in Omaha, with 10% donated back to local communities’ health and wellness programs. The Cattlemen’s Ball has become one of the Midwest’s premier events, raising millions of dollars for cancer research. Held in a different and unique location each year, the Cattlemen’s Ball gives host communities the opportunity to showcase their area of the state. Hundreds of volunteers, donors, patrons and friends come together for one unforgettable weekend in June when thousands of guests attend the Ball under the big top tents beneath the stars.

Of course, a great event requires great Wi-Fi connectivity across the entire campus of big top tents. To provide connectivity, Nextlink Internet provided a high-capacity feed to the location while Cambium Networks provided the Wi-Fi access points (AP) at both indoor and outdoor locations.

“It has been a great opportunity for Nextlink Internet to provide connectivity for over 4,000 attendees at the Cattlemen’s Ball – the purpose and the vision of the event align with Nextlink’s mission in the communities we serve. What was accomplished and the seamless service we were able to provide was a team effort with Cambium Networks, and in the end we were a part of a huge effort to ensure that every guest, regardless of where they were on the grounds, had reliable Wi-Fi so that they could be in the know of events and participate in the auctions while still being connected to their families and responsibilities at home. Being in a rural location and providing reliable, high-speed service is what Nextlink does for a community – this was a great event to showcase that it can be done well,” said Cameron Kilton, Nextlink’s Chief Technology Officer. 

Planning the Network 

The Cattlemen’s Ball Wi-Fi network was designed to accommodate high density usage. There were several areas that had upwards of 4,000 people during the event. Due to the nature of the wireless activity, it was necessary to ensure great Wi-Fi for all client devices. Most of what the Wi-Fi was used for related to fundraising throughout the event. That said, Cambium Networks’ four-radio access points were strategically placed to provide full coverage for every client device, regardless of location. 

In the areas with large crowds, Cambium Networks’ APs were spaced out but still more densely deployed to accommodate the number of users walking in/out and standing. Because Cambium Networks APs have software-defined radios, most of the radios were able to operate on the 5 GHz frequency band. This allowed for the provisioning of faster speeds and higher reliability. These APs are ideal for large events with high-density crowds.

The challenge in these situations is to add enough APs to provide the capacity needed without creating co-channel interference between the radios. In the lower density areas, APs were deployed to provide coverage while being able to handle the occasional in/out traffic during the event. 

Installing and Provisioning 

The Wi-Fi network mainly utilized the Cambium Networks Rapid Deployment Kits (RDKs/tripods), or, in many cases, they were suspended from the tent structure. All the APs that were placed outside the tent were installed on RDKs. Inside the tent, great coverage was needed not only in the center of the tent but all the way to the edges. In the center of the tent, APs were mounted with airline hangar cable in efforts to optimize the height of the APs from the ground. This also helped ensure that no single or center AP would be more visible to client devices. Cambium Networks’ cnMatrix™ switches were also deployed to provide a unified view of the entire network with a “single pane of glass” on management system screens. 

Delivered: Excellent Wi-Fi Indoors and Outdoors 

Fixed Wireless and Wi-Fi provide an excellent solution that delivers high speed connectivity for temporary events or permanent networks. Solutions can be rapidly designed and installed. The networks provide the coverage and capacity for dense crowds streaming video. The technology is affordable so any enterprise, municipality or service provider can rapidly connect people.