Like clockwork, at the end of every summer, the eyes of the sports world turn to New York City for the United States Tennis Association’s U.S. Open.
Like clockwork, every spring, Spectrum’s New York City Operations team begins its planning on how to bring Internet connectivity to the world’s largest tennis tournament.
For the fifth year in a row, Spectrum is bringing WiFi connectivity to the U.S. Open, helping the million-plus spectators stay connected in the grandstands, the shops and the restaurants across the 46.5-acre campus in Flushing, Queens.
Spectrum Brings a Vast WiFi Network to a Grand Slam
Heading up the effort is Spectrum manager Ericson Llana, a longtime employee. He leads a crew of 50 other Spectrum workers on site at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center. Since May, the employees have been working with USTA technical staff and Cisco, the router manufacturer, to build, test and monitor the vast WiFi network that spans the campus.
“I’m a native New Yorker, and it gives me great pride and pleasure to work on this network, and bring WiFi connectivity to the fans who come to watch this great tournament,” said Llana. “There is a ton of work that goes into turning up the network here. Each year it seems the USTA has built another stadium or expanded in some way, and we need to make sure those new areas are ready for the fans when they arrive.”
Llana noted that in addition to nearly 100 miles of fiber optic and copper cable, there are some 450 access points scattered across the area. He said that the existing network must be checked for any damage that occurred during the winter months.
“Wiring needs to be replaced, the access points need to be repositioned, and then the testing of all aspects of the network to make sure it is working perfectly,” he said.
It Takes a Team to Stay Connected
During the planning and run-up to the Open, there are about 20 Spectrum employees working on the network on site. However, as Llana pointed out, many more are involved at company testing and surveillance centers in Denver, St. Louis, Austin and, of course, New York City.
Llana and his crew’s work was not done when the action began on Aug. 28. For the two weeks of the tournament, they are glued 24/7 to their posts at a command center along with other service providers to make sure the access points remain positioned correctly, that WiFi signal strength is maintained, and that the signal is flowing smoothly in all areas of the center.
When the tournament is over, Llana and his team take time to secure all parts of the network, knowing, like clockwork, the 2018 U.S. Open will arrive before they know it.