Xirrus Gets Yellow Jersey for Successful Tour de France Mobile Wi-Fi Network

That white circular thing at upper right is a Xirrus wireless array, doing its duty in a Tour de France press room. Credit: Xirrus.

Just like Britain’s Bradley Wiggins, Wi-Fi gear vendor Xirrus had a pretty good Tour de France, as its wireless arrays finished off a successful string of supporting the demanding needs of the world’s media during the 21-stage event.

According to a Xirrus press release, the company supplied its gear to French wireless supplier Orange, which delivered Internet access to the race’s start and finish areas, a challenging task that involved quick setup and teardown in the host cities. The Xirrus release said that its network for Orange supported “125 TV broadcasters, 2,300 journalists, 70 radio stations, and 450 newspapers transferring enormous amounts of media-rich files from the Tour’s Start Village, Timing Locations, Sprint Locations, Media Centers, and Finish Lines.”

If you’re not familiar with the demands of sport media, the still cameras alone at a big event like the Tour de France can account for millions of megapixels. Typically the photographers, who spend most of race days on motorcycles, decamp at the finish line press tents and start immediately downloading huge files of photos to their main offices, where the images are posted on web sites or readied for print publications. And they are just a subset of the throng of local broadcasters, national and international print writers and radio commentators who all need big broadband pipes to get their information from race site to website.

That’s where Xirrus and Orange came in, designing a highly mobile network infrastructure that featured Xirrus’ modular access points, which can be configured with more radios as are needed to handle bandwidth demands. That Xirrus was as up to the task as Wiggins and all the other riders who traversed the race’s thousands of kilometers was proven in part by the money quote from the apparently satisfied client, Henri Terreaux, Events Projects Manager at the French Operation Division of Orange:

“Orange is focused on providing the Tour de France, NBC Sports, government dignitaries, and thousands of media professionals during the race with reliable, high-performance wireless connectivity. Xirrus makes it easy to support the thousands of devices, simultaneously transferring large amounts of video and photo files through a robust network that, due to the race, must be redeployed on a daily basis, across 21 cities, in extreme environments. The array-based platform is the most powerful and trusted solution we’ve tested, and very quick to set-up.”

Here are some more details on the Xirrus blog.