News & Views
By Caitlin Judge, January 2012
Excerpt from Merit Network spotlight article:
When it was decided that the Republican Presidential Debate was to take place at Oakland University (OU) on November 9, 2011 Oakland's staff contacted Merit Network and its vendors to work with them on technical support.
The Michigan GOP had contacted OU early in the summer of 2011 to see if the university qualified to host this type of national event. Oakland had hosted high profile events with national audiences in the past. The university hosted President George W. Bush in the summer of 2002, as well as the former President of Mexico Vicente Fox in 2004. Once OU was chosen for the debate, it was responsible for assisting CNBC with the technical requirements needed to produce and broadcast the televised event, as well as assist its IT staff with the myriad of media personnel on campus. With so much to accomplish and manage, Brian Paige, executive director of networking and technology for Oakland University, knew that he and his staff would need assistance from its existing partners.
Because Oakland's stadium is normally used for university athletics, it was not designed for wireless Internet access for the magnitude required to host a presidential debate. In addition to the arena, the complex includes a three-court gym, a weight training and fitness area, multipurpose rooms, racquetball and squash courts, as well as a wellness center, classrooms and meeting areas. The main arena was used for the debate itself, while the other rooms in the gymnasium were used as the media filing center for over 250 reporters, and the locker rooms and classrooms were used for CNBC staff, the Michigan Republican Party and the candidates.
A wireless network needed to be set-up to provide coverage to all of these areas with the capacity to serve a high density of users. David Gilbertson, Bob Dewolf and Brett Nelson of Merit Network were brought in to build and set up wireless access points throughout the complex, all within three days of the event. Merit was then asked to bring in its vendors, Cisco and TelNet Worldwide, to provide a large number of VoIP handset phones and provision MeritVoice (VoIP) and regular telephone lines for the media filing center.
On the Sunday prior to the event, Merit staff began building the access points. Merit and Oakland staff worked together to get all of the network access ports configured and activated, including the provisioning of the network.
Along with wireless network support and a robust Internet backbone, Merit staff worked with Cisco and TelNet Worldwide to provide telecommunications resources to all of the reporters in the O'rena filing center. Cisco, a Merit Community Supporter, provided over 60 handset phones, while TelNet, a long-time Merit service partner, set up the phones and provided all of the provisioned phone lines. As part of a strategic contingency plan, the vendors also provided several fax machines that worked easily on Merit's network. According to Cunningham, both vendors did an exceptional job accommodating all of Oakland's needs for the debate.
TelNet founder and president, Mark Iannuzzi commented, "We're proud to have been selected to partner with Merit in support of such an extraordinary event. In coordination with Merit, Cisco and OU's technical teams, TelNet established service for over 100 IP-based telephone and fax lines, and set up the Cisco-provided IP phones, used by the media - all within a very short period of time. As a long time Merit partner, we appreciate their confidence in TelNet to get the job done right. Exceptional effort on all fronts made this project a resounding success."
For the complete Merit spotlight article, go to: http://www.merit.edu/news/features/spotlight.php?story=oakland3