Wireless network has ski village covered

Wireless technology is proving to be a boon at a new leisure destination which is destined to become one of the major visitor attractions in the North West of England.

Chill Factore, a massive, real snow, indoor ski village which dominates the skyline of West Manchester next to the Trafford Centre, opened in November and already up to 20,000 people a week are using its wide range of facilities.

The main ski slope itself is 180 metres long, opening up to 100 metres wide at the bottom. There is also a separate learner slope, a luge track, a children’s snowplay area and a climbing wall. There are bars and restaurants and a conference suite.

To allow efficient management of visitors, Chill Factore contracted Pennine Telecom to install a wireless network in both the cold and warm zones.

Pennine designed and installed the network. It uses five Proxim AP4000MR WiFi mesh access points, backed up with networking equipment, to cover the whole complex.

“We have three different uses for the network,” said Stuart Wright, the head of IT at the complex.

“It allows our managers and staff to use laptops to access our systems no matter where they are in the complex. It effectively means they can take their office with them if, for instance, they go to a meeting room.

“The system also provides free public WiFi access for our guests in the conference rooms and bars.

“Finally it allows us to use handhelds for order-taking in the bars for drinks, etc, and for security and checking lift passes on the slope itself.”

Pennine installed two outdoor stations, which have to operate in a temperature of minus 10 degrees, and three indoor stations.

“It was an interesting installation,” said Ian Taylor, of Pennine Telecom. “The units in the cold zone are completely covered in ice and are capable of working in temperatures as low as minus 30 degrees. The great advantage is that no wiring is necessary. All the units need is power – everything else is done through WiFi.”

Chill Factore is proving a magnet for companies who are using the conference and meeting facilities and then entertaining their guests or staff on the slopes. “The luge and snow tubing are particularly popular,” said Stuart. “The fact that there is free internet access in the conference rooms is an added bonus.”

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