papal visit to philadelphia

BIG Wireless Supports Papal Visit to Philadelphia

When most people were anticipating the Labor Day holiday with picnics and fireworks, BIG’s wireless network engineers were brainstorming. The week before Labor Day BIG Wireless was contacted by one of the country’s largest internet service providers, Xfinity. Xfinity was requesting BIG Wireless’s support on an outdoor WiFi Initiative for the Papal visit in Philadelphia.

  • Project: Xfinity
  • Location: Philadelphia, PA
  • Services: Wireless
Access points being assembled by the BIG Wireless team in York, PA

The Challenge

The request was to provide a solution for wireless connectivity for hundreds of thousands of people coming to Philadelphia to visit the Pope. The result was 248 access points and 31 ethernet switches mounted to 31 jumbotrons which would give visitors free WiFi capability to tweet, text and post selfies of the historical event. The timeline for the equipment to be designed, assembled and delivered to Philadelphia was 7 days.


BIG Wireless delivered on time to the project site. Once on site in Philadelphia the BIG Wireless engineering team assisted Xfinity with antenna placement, cabling solutions and switch installation which took 6 days, 10 team members and 600 hours. On Monday September 28th, 2015 our team of BIG Wireless engineers confidently headed back to Philadelphia to tear down and uninstall the access points knowing the solution exceeded expectations.

Access points mounted to Jumbotrons during the Papal visit to Philadelphia.

"When asked by our fine client and partner Comcast to help them provide free WiFi for the millions of visitors for the historic Papal visit to Philadelphia, I looked at it as an honor, privilege, and a challenge, given such a short timeframe. However, I knew the BIG team had the skills, drive, and ambition to help Comcast make the whole event a tremendous success. The call from Comcast came in on a Friday evening with only a few weeks to design and deploy an outdoor WiFi network, anchored on the large jumbotron screens in Philadelphia that could support thousands of hungry WiFi users sending videos and pictures of the historic event all around the world. Without hesitation, I accepted the project and the BIG team performed exactly as trained and expected and delivered the quality product that both the BIG executive management and our partner Comcast expected. "

John Dolmetsch CIO, Business Information Group

Project Highlights

Hardware Used:
248 Access Points & 31 Ethernet Switches

BIG Wireless Team Contributions:
10 Team Members & 600 Man-Hours

7 Days from Start to Finish

Project Leads

Tom Felty

Roger Hayes

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