While many resorts have installed WiFi in villages at the base of their mountains, the Mt. Buller system, based on equipment from Strix Systems Inc. , is being touted as the first comprehensive wireless network at a ski resort.
"It's true to our knowledge that this is the first that covers the entire resort border-to-border," says Nan Chen, vice president of marketing and product management at Strix, "including slopes, slope operations, buildings for guests, buildings for employees –- in other words, the entire mountain."
Snow Sports Interactive's "whispar" wireless system uses Strix Access/One products, which were included in the recent test of wireless mesh networking equipment sponsored by Light Reading and performed by the testing lab Iometrix Inc. The tests showed that a Strix Access/One Outdoor Wireless System 2400 hardened outdoor mesh node maintained a constant maximum throughput of 35 Mbit/s over up to four hops. (See Wireless Mesh Passes Test.)
Strix’s multi-radio, multi-channel, multi-RF solution is particularly well-suited for providing restricted line-of-sight coverage in the harsh alpine environment at Mt. Buller, says Steve Kenny, Managing Director of SnowSports Interactive.
“Strix’s OWS and [Indoor Wireless System] solutions were easy to deploy quickly, and we can upgrade the system ourselves seamlessly as Strix introduces new products and capabilities," Kenny said in a statement. "Strix also provides superior throughput over multiple hops, which is essential in a ski-resort terrain where wiring nodes for backhaul is nearly impossible."
"Near-zero multi-hop throughput and latency degradation are particularly important" at a ski resort, adds Chen, "as it was just impractical to have a wired connection for every two or hops like most one- or two-radio wireless mesh equipment requires."
For those who already dread sitting next to a skier or rider jabbering away on their cell phone, the advent of mountain-wide WiFi may not sound like a brilliant idea; Mt. Buller officials, however, expect the system to be used mostly for checking email during a ski day, GPS-based trail navigation, or for laptop work at the base of the mountain.
Strix, meanwhile, sees ski resorts as a small but lucrative element of the outdoor/mobile enterprise market, which includes airports, resorts, trains, ports, manufacturing, distribution centers, and so on.
Just watch the trail ahead, and not your BlackBerry screen.
— Richard Martin, Senior Editor, Unstrung