Orange Vélodrome delivers on smart power consumption, paving a sustainable route for other large venues

Venues with high-density networks, from stadiums to large shopping malls, have designed their infrastructures for stability, availability, and convenience. However, these networks are “always on”, rather than only operating when needed, which wastes energy. Orange Business has co-innovated a solution with partner Cisco to overcome this issue, and it is being tested at Orange Vélodrome in France.

The 67,000 capacity Orange Vélodrome stadium, located in Marseille, in the south of France, is an important technology testbed for Orange. As well as providing a public Wi-Fi network, the stadium is also used as a live experimentation platform for 5G services and applications. It is now serving as a key venue to examine energy efficiency. 

Recently, Orange Business has been looking to enhance sustainability in the stadium and reduce its carbon footprint. Wi-Fi network energy consumption has provided a starting point. 

Making the stadium energy efficient

The Cisco Wi-Fi infrastructure, installed in 2016, comprises 1,100 devices, including 1,041 Wi-Fi access points and 43 switches across seven floors, which are “always on” even when the stadium is empty. The Orange Vélodrome only holds major events approximately 30 days a year, but the Wi-Fi hotspots remain permanently on, continuously consuming energy if the stadium is empty or full. This is a significant drain on energy from a cost and sustainability point of view. 

Orange Business and Cisco were looking to reduce the IT infrastructure’s energy consumption via a solution that would comply with the legacy network while monitoring carbon emissions to create a greener venue. missions de carbone pour créer un site plus vert.

The partners’ co-innovation workshops identified two use cases to tackle. The first was how to monitor the energy efficiency of all the components, including access points (APs) and switches, and detect any over-consuming energy. This would enable predictive maintenance based on the results. Second, was how to optimize energy management across all parts of the venue’s network infrastructure, including turning off access points (AP) when Wi-Fi is not in use.

The big challenge was coming up with a solution that worked with the existing network installation and physical construction of the stadium. Orange Business and Cisco worked together on a configurable solution: a secured appliance able to script CLI (Command Line Interface) at high speed into the console of each switchs of the stadium. This bot captured and monitored in real time the end device references, their location and their power consumption.

To enhance energy management, the co-innovation teams built a controller that powers the network infrastructure according to pre-defined requirements. In addition, they created a dashboard to capture energy consumption in real-time to monitor energy levels. 

Big challenges come with new way of doing things, like using Software to pilot Network. Because the  “Bot” ran inside the stadium network, each equipment was monitored through its data but also controlled.  It was now possible to shut down all or part of the switches’ports, based on different criteria (time schedule, event, location …).  Actually, shutting down WiFi at home is easy because there is mainly only 1 access point. In a stadium, especially a connected one, there are 1041 Access points on the same location. When they are turned off then switched on, in addition to power supply, the radio resource management (spectrum, channel) must reconfigure between all 1041 access points so that the WiFi is optimum again.

“By combining our expertise and technologies, we have adapted the 2016 Wi-Fi installation at the Orange Velodrome and could save the energy consumption of the Wi-Fi and network terminals by 52% ,” explains Guillaume Chabas, director of innovation at Orange Business.

The next step in delivering sustainability to large venues

Orange Business and Cisco’s innovation teams are now running tests on the solution. In the long term, this could be applied to other large venues, such as sports stadiums and shopping malls. It could also potentially control energy in Power over Ethernet (PoE). PoE is used in smart home applications such as lighting, heating and air conditioning to transport power and data over a single cable, simplifying cabling requirements. 

¹Calculation Method to estimate the impacts of the Smart Power Delivery solution on the WiFi infrastructure of the Orange Vélodrome:
-    Average energy measured from the PoE powering the Orange Vélodrome WiFi access points: 6.3 Wh

  • Measurement performed by a CLI (Command Line Interface) script
  • Average measurement observed over 12 months within the stadium under normal operation

-    Nominal "Always-on" operation of the Orange Vélodrome:

  • WiFi infrastructure powered 24/7, with 1041 access points powered for 8760 hours per year
  • Extrapolated energy consumption for 1 year: 6.3 Wh x 1041 access points x 8760h = 57,450 kWh/year

-    "On-Demand" operation of the Orange Vélodrome based on usage:

  • 30 major events per year, with all WiFi access points powered for 72 hours during these events, totaling 2160 hours
  • 323 access points on a main stand powered 24/7
  • 718 WiFi access points turned off on 3 out of 4 stands, outside of major events, totaling 6600 hours per year
  • Extrapolated energy consumption for 1 year: (6.3 Wh x 1041 access points x 2160h) + (6.3 Wh x 323 access points x 6600h) = 27,756 kWh/year

-    The estimated energy savings between these two operating modes over 1 year is therefore 29,874 kWh, representing 52% compared to the nominal "Always-on" operation of the Orange Vélodrome.

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