James Madison University Atlantic Union Bank Center

Future-Proofed Wi-Fi 6 Network for High-Performance Fan Coverage

Sure, having a high-density Wi-Fi network for your university’s 8,500-seat arena has a lot of sizzle, but at what cost? Now imagine a solution that allows for a state-of-the-art Wi-Fi 6 system for far less than your original bid — and with no added personnel overhead? That’s just the kind of overachieving wireless technology project M S Benbow & Associates delivered for James Madison University’s brand-new home for the JMU Duke’s, Atlantic Union Bank Center. Prime examples of the creative problem-solving, project controls and value engineering that goes into every one of our projects and a key reason customers seek out MSB when they need to solve complex problems to meet their technology needs.

The Atlantic Union Bank Center, which opened in fall 2020, ushers in a new era of JMU basketball, women’s indoor sports and numerous other university and community events, such as commencement, concerts, trade shows and more. To meet the high-speed needs of students and fans, the university had planned for a commercial ISP to support the arena’s Wi-Fi network, but the price came in substantially over budget. That’s when MSB put the pedal to the metal and found a more economical way to serve the high-capacity needs of the venue.

MSB originally searched for a way to tie the arena to the wireless network on campus but found this solution would put a strain on the IT staff and could potentially create issues with campus network security. Instead, MSB reached out to Apogee, the managed services technology partner currently providing internet ISP and cable television to JMU’s dormitories. The MSB and Apogee teams discovered Apogee’s backhaul could connect its server across the campus via fiber cabling, enabling the university to deploy sophisticated infrastructure while minimizing costs and complexity.

MSB spent an extensive period of time engineering a network design to fit the university’s budget and achieve its objective of reliable, first-class wireless coverage for students and public guests of the new arena. In the process of identifying a solution, updating the contract and negotiating the network expansion with Apogee, MSB determined that JMU could upgrade their planned Wi-Fi 5 network to next-generation Wi-Fi 6 design, future-proofing the arena’s Wi-Fi network for the same cost called for in the contract. As a result, the Wi-Fi system is now able to achieve greater coverage and faster speed for streaming video, voice calls, internet, and wireless ticketing.

The process put their project two to three months behind schedule, but opening day didn’t change. MSB completed the entire network installation, from build out to commissioning, in just under two months to meet the contract deadline.

MSB provided drafting and design, technical consulting, vendor coordination, project controls and construction, and project management for the project. MSB will be on site supporting seamless Wi-Fi coverage when fans step into their brand-new arena at full capacity and will provide ongoing maintenance and technical support to continue to achieve seamless coverage to meet their wireless demands.

Services Provided

  • Construction Management
  • Detailed As-Built Package and Documentation
  • Full A&E Design Package
  • Live Event Support
  • Project Management
  • System Commissioning
  • Vendor & Manufacturer Coordination

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