Cambridge University selects Perle PoE+ Industrial Media Converters to power Free Wi-Fi during Tour de France Stage 3

Perle PoE+ Industrial Media Converters enable over 30,000 connections at the Tour de France event

Thanks to the University, in partnership with the local authority, Cambridge now boasts a free public wireless service. The year long trial was scheduled to be ready for the third stage of the Tour de France which was due to pass through the City.

The University’s high speed wireless access project (in collaboration with the Connecting Cambridgeshire initiative, Cambridge City Council and their suppliers) is focused on providing roaming wireless access across public spaces in the Cambridge metropolitan area. The goal is to enhance the wireless experience for students and the public alike.

The Challenge

The city council already had a programme of putting up a series of lamp posts in local green spaces to enhance night-time safety. Before the lamp posts were put up, the University (with the help of suppliers DW Windsor, AV Engineering and the Department of Engineering) was able to create and install a custom-made finial for housing wireless access points at the top of each lamp post.

The Aruba 275 & 175 series Access Points located inside the finial have a Gigabit Copper input. However, to meet distance and bandwidth needs, single mode fiber optic cabling was required to network the lamp post. Additionally, the Access Points (APs) required 30W of power to operate but, dedicated power is not available at the top of a lamp post. Ideally, the University wanted a single device that could connect the Gigabit Ethernet Access Points to fiber and provide 30W of Power over Ethernet to the APs. This would save running separate cables to the APs and reduce the amount of equipment that needed to be housed in the lamp posts. The brief to provide a suitable solution was given to Universal Networks and Perle Systems.

Cambridge University
Cambridge University Wifi

The Solution

The Perle PoE+ Industrial Media Converter met all requirements.

  1. The copper transceiver in the Media Converters provide the signal conversion technology necessary to connect the Gigabit Copper AP’s to single mode fiber.
  2. Perle PoE Media Converters are classified as Power Sourcing Equipment (PSE) and function as PoE injectors to provide the IEEE 802.3at PoE+ standard 30W of power to the APs.
  3. The Media Converters also support an extended temperature range of -40°C to +75°C. This is important because the equipment would be exposed to wide temperature fluctuations when mounted either at the base of lamp posts or at the top within a weather proof IP67 enclosure.

Huge Success

"We had them running a few weeks before the event and all went on the day with no hitches", said Nick Harwood of University of Cambridge Information Services. "We had external wireless access points in key locations and saw a peak of around 30,000 connections at the height of the Tour de France event. We are now planning to expand the wireless network into open spaces in collaboration with the City and County Councils as part of their Connecting Cambridge initiative."

About University of Cambridge:

The University of Cambridge is one of the world's foremost research universities. The University is made up of 31 Colleges and over 150 departments, faculties, schools and other institutions. Its mission is " to contribute to society through the pursuit of education, learning, and research at the highest international levels of excellence. "

About Universal Networks

Since 1994, Universal Networks have provided bespoke networking solutions to a variety of industries. They have a wide range of data networking products and accessories including tactical fiber Optic Cables, Cat5e/Cat6/Cat6a Patch Leads, Network Switches and Media Converters.

University of Cambridge & Connecting Cambridge Logos

Images courtesy of University of Cambridge

  1. Close up of lamp post containing Wi-Fi access point
  2. Access point (white) next to specially-designed lamp post housing unit


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