A Challenge from out of the blue
This project started when Martin Langmaid – Peplink’s Solution Architect, called us asking for some help. He had a media company customer that needed to get a reliable high bandwidth cellular internet connection into a disused power station in Southampton for a live direct to internet video streaming event, and was a little anxious that they needed to start filming in two days time. Since we’re always up for a challenge – of course we said we would help.
Delivering cellular connectivity to tricky locations is what we do, but the timescales on this job forced us to change our usual process for delivery. Normally we would schedule an engineering visit to site to perform a cellular survey and work out which operators have coverage, then safe in the knowledge that connectivity was achievable we would plan the deployment and kit list and get hold of the right SIMS on the right tariff for the job. On average then, for a custom deployment like this we would expect 2-3 days of planning and then 1-2 days of installation and test.
Load the Van and Go.
With such an accelerated timescale we had to take a different approach which was basically to go into our store room and load the van with everything we could think of that might be useful, from Antenna rigs, to cloudcases, to data cable and termination kits, along with boxes and boxes of Peplink routers and Ubiquiti wireless APs and antennas. With the van loaded we picked Martin up and headed to site.
The On Site Challenge
There were two big challenges on site, the first was to find the best combination of location and cellular operator that resulted in the best possible throughput. The second was to then get that internet connectivity back to where it was needed along hundreds of meters of corridors, and through the main turbine hall of the power station.
Our CloudCases really proved their unique value for the cellular site survey, and using two cases powered by battery packs we could move freely inside the power station and around its perimeter in search of the operator sweet spot for signal and bandwidth. The best recorded speed result of the day (or night really as we could only gain access to the site from 4pm to 2am) was 19Mbps down and 26Mbps up but that was recorded in the middle of a car park – far from where it was needed.
Eventually we managed to get a reasonable result in the old power station control room which looked like something out of a movie (we later learned had just been featured in Mission Impossible 5) with dials and screens everywhere. The challenge then was to get a cable route back from the control room to where the media company had set up their IT infrastructure. Thankfully we had enough equipment in the van to cable most of Southampton Waters if we needed to, so we had everything we needed to make that happen.
We left site at 1am, knackered but chuffed that we had managed to turn up to such a tricky job and provide a high bandwidth, reliable cellular internet connection within hours in one of the trickiest locations yet.
The media company were delighted with the reliability of the cellular connectivity and we’re featured in the behind the scenes video.