Increasingly events across Europe are moving from cash to digital payments. Digital transactions are faster. There is no hassle with handling enormous amounts of cash. Fraud risk is minimized, and revenue sharing schemes can be reliably implemented.
Oh – at an all-digital festival you may still have piles of coins around for paying back the deposits when people return their empty cans and mugs. Experiments on handling the topic by reversing debit card transactions did not go well. Too often the person trying to return a can was not the original buyer – and without the payment card the process did not work.
Nomadic networks - serving many events
With the growth of digital payments, the need for portable private LTE systems at events is growing. This summer Poutanet solutions were in use in Finland, Spain and in the Netherlands. Set the network up on Thursday and distribute your POS terminals. Run the network on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. Pick it up and continue to the next venue. That is the new agile model. A special applause to the regulators and frequency license holders that make this possible. A fast processing of frequency license applications is key.
The network you can buy or rent – and run on your own. If you already happen to have your own suitable LTE base stations the core and local management can be supplied using a software as a service model.
For traditional telco folks used to massive cell towers and complex radio network rollouts with a lot of contracting and civil works the above may sound like kids playing with toy cars. From the festival arranger's point of view the topic of reliable wireless connectivity is high on the agenda. Without an Internet connection the payment terminals are useless. No payments. Commerce stops and queues start growing. A sizable part of the event revenues depends on the network connections.
Scaling for really large crowds
In the biggest event served by Poutanet this summer close to 500 point of sales terminals were in use. With such volumes there is not much of a cost difference between renting a private LTE network or getting subscriptions from a public mobile operator - but using a public network is in this case a plug and pray solution in so far that you never know if that network has any capacity available for your POS terminals, or if the phones of the festival guests consume all uplink bandwidth uploading videos and photos to the cloud services.
Satellite connections save time and bring along peace of mind
With low orbit satellite services, it is now possible to bring along also Internet connectivity. This is practical for events that are organized in places where the telecom infrastructure is poor. Orienteering competitions are a good example. Most likely the only Internet connections available in the forest serving the competition are provided by mobile networks. These may work well before the event starts, but when the crowd gathers, these networks are quickly saturated.
Even in places where wireline internet connectivity is available, bringing along satellite gear may be preferable. It removes the need to negotiate the temporary connection as well as the integration effort. The ISP point of presence you need to connect to is not necessarily next to the location where you would like to set up your private mobile network gear. The only challenge is that the satellite antenna panel needs to have a quite good sky view for communicating with the many satellites that appear from behind the horizon and soon disappear out of sight.
Another use case for the satellite kit is peace of mind. As service availability is at the top of the agenda, having two alternative Internet connections may save the festival experience of all involved. This means up to a hundred thousand visitors per event and busy organizers who do not notice the private LTE service. The next step is to add other use cases such as security cameras and audio and video for the event organizers. This may within some time also pave the way to private 5G at festivals.
If you have not seen it yet, please have a look at the point of sales video crated with Cumucore and Helppari. The solution was shortlisted for the MWC 2023 GLOMO award in the category of Best Mobile Innovation for Connected Economy.