Watford FC teams up with Cisco for 10Gb/sec network makeover

Watford FC is modernising its communications infrastructure as part of a 32.5 million overhaul of its Vicarage Stadium in a bid to enhance fans' experience and ensure that its corporate efforts generate as much alternative revenue for the club as possible.

As part of the project, which kicked off earlier this year and will start to bear fruits at the beginning of the season, Watford is installing a new Cisco-based network that will deliver speeds of 10 Gb/sec to every part of the stadium.

"We did have a network in place but we wanted to move away from this spider's web and start again with something that wouldn't have to be change as [we continue to build and change the site]," said James Barton, a technical consultant for Watford FC, who works for Cisco SMB partner The Project Network.

"It's very very important for us to have a secure and reliable network with access control for both match days and corporate events as our business plan is to have sustainable revenue outside of television as we learned some very painful lessons from the TV crash."

The new voice, video and data communication fixed and wireless infrastructure - based on Cisco Catalyst 3750E, Cisco Catalyst 3560E and 6500 Series switches in addition to Cisco Aironet 1130 AG access points and 140 Cisco Unified IP Phones - is geared up to support the use of smartcard turnstile access for fans as well as allowing them to use the cards to pay for goods around the stadium in the future.

The football club also plans to link data captured by the smartcard system - provided by Fortress GB - to help better match the services it supplies with customers' individual preferences.

Additionally, stewards will make use of mobile devices connected to the wireless network to help provide information to visitors and ensure more effective crowd management through real-time video access.

Watford is hoping the new network will set it in good stead for the next decade and plans to eventually integrate all of its building management systems into the infrastructure to enable more economic and central management of key services like lighting, heating, CCTV and digital signage.

"I'd advise others thinking about embarking on a project like this to be very clear about what their objectives are and make sure that they plan for the future," added Barton.

Maggie Holland

Maggie has been a journalist since 1999, starting her career as an editorial assistant on then-weekly magazine Computing, before working her way up to senior reporter level. In 2006, just weeks before ITPro was launched, Maggie joined Dennis Publishing as a reporter. Having worked her way up to editor of ITPro, she was appointed group editor of CloudPro and ITPro in April 2012. She became the editorial director and took responsibility for ChannelPro, in 2016.

Her areas of particular interest, aside from cloud, include management and C-level issues, the business value of technology, green and environmental issues and careers to name but a few.