Ampthink completes 600-access point Wi-Fi installation at Mall of America

Ampthink credits its ability to relatively quickly wrap up a recent large-scale Wi-Fi installation to off-site staging and kitting.

The recently completed a massive Wi-Fi network installation at the 5.6 million-square-foot Mall of America in Bloomington, Minnesota, an installation that required 600 access points, 236,000 feet of CAT6 cable, and 7,920 feet of fiber optic cable to complete.

Since the network's substantial completion in November 2015 up through April 30, the new Wi-Fi network has supported 319,995 unique users and 793,750 total wireless sessions while handling more than 486 terabytes of data traffic.

Although the Wi-Fi network wasn't completely finished until April, due to delivery delays on location equipment, the company was still able to finish the installation fairly quickly by doing a lot of work away from the site.

"The key to achieving our schedule was our software based staging and kitting system which allowed us to pre-manufacture much of the installed systems off-site including supporting fiber optic cabling (pre-cut and pre-terminated) and 'ready to install' access point assemblies which were keyed to our design documents," Ampthink President Bill Anderson told FierceInstaller in an email.

The installation process included designing and manufacturing custom access point enclosures that stealthed the combination of access point, Cisco HALO antenna, and patch antenna required to make the location equipment work in the Malls open multi-story environment, Anderson said, adding that the enclosures were designed and manufactured in 6 weeks using AmpThink's enclosure component system.

Anderson said the installation also required substantial upgrades to the installed wired network which had to be coordinated to avoid disruptions to the operation of existing systems.

"The optimization of the network required that we consider multiple sources of interference which included tenant installed Wi-Fi, wireless surveillance products, and other non-Wi-Fi devices operating in the 2.4 and 5 GHz bands," Anderson said.

Anderson said the Wi-Fi system is not used for carrier Wi-Fi but said the amount of traffic being handled clearly indicates a lot of offloading from carrier wireless network.

"This is traffic that the Mall can and is now analyzing in an effort to use the data to improve revenue for its tenants and sponsorship revenue opportunities for the Mall," Anderson said. "In addition to supporting guest traffic, the network supports the Mall of America's internal Wi-Fi needs and is heavily utilized by tenants. In fact some Mall tenants are considering using the Mall's Wi-Fi in lieu of traditional carrier ISP services."

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