12th Century Castle Gets Inside/Outside WLAN

By Naomi Graychase

December 07, 2007

The thick castle walls and world heritage site status posed a unique challenge at Ireland's Kilkenny Castle.

Kilkenny Castle’s last major renovation was during the reign of Queen Victoria. Recently, though, it went through a definitively modern adjustment, one which is mostly invisible to the naked eye. The 12th century Irish castle, formerly home to the Marquesses and Dukes of Ormonde, is now home to an indoor/outdoor WLAN.

 

“Until recently, Kilkenny Castle was completely un-networked,” says Paul Smith, IT Project Manager at the castle. “Only a few staff had Internet access and it was via a dial-up connection, which was extremely slow. There was no file or print sharing, and we had to dial-up to get our e-mail. It was a pretty medieval arrangement.”castle.jpg

 

Because the castle is a world heritage site, making structural modifications was basically impossible, which made a Wi-Fi network the obvious choice.

 

Motorola deployed a WLAN using the Motorola WS5100 wireless switch, a number of 802.11b/g access ports, and several Motorola PTP 400 series wireless point-to-point Ethernet bridges to provide wireless coverage around the site.

 

The thickness of the stone walls provided a special challenge to Motorola. The solution resulted in the first deployment to integrate former Symbol equipment with legacy Motorola Enterprise Mobility technology into a seamless inside/outside wireless solution.

 

The walls provided too much of a barrier for a typical Motorola point-to-point canopy network to be effective at Kilkenny; yet, a traditional Motorola Wi-Fi solution wouldn’t provide enough signal to cover the distance between the buildings at this site. As a result, Motorola improvised a solution that combines indoor and outdoor technologies to create a ubiquitous network.

 

Now the 60 staff onsite at Kilkenny have access to e-mail, the Web, and file-sharing capabilities more in keeping with modern times. The new network has also become the source of a new revenue stream, as users of the on-site conference center area can now pay to access the broadband Wi-Fi network.

 

“We have completely networked the site with a minimal number of alterations,” says Smith. “We presently have around 90% coverage in the castle, which is impressive considering that in places the walls are very thick, and there are six floors and three long wings to the building. The installation only took four days and did not disrupt the guided tours of the castle, which would have meant a loss of revenue.”

 

Naomi Graychase is Managing Editor at Wi-FiPlanet.



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