Historic Buildings Prove Challenging for New Technology Installations

Kim Mays

For many SMBs, the dream of building out a new data center or starting from scratch in a new building with all new wiring isn’t going to come true. Often, smaller businesses are stuck in older, sometimes historic, buildings with less-than-up-to-date wiring and features. But instead of just saying that it’s impossible to supply everyone with Wi-Fi or other technologies, you have to get creative and do some research.

GigaOm recently discussed this topic with Boston Red Sox IT Director Steve Conley. He oversaw the deployment of Wi-Fi in Fenway Park, which is over 100 years old. According to Conley, the difficulty in finding space for the connectivity points was extremely challenging. The interior of the park contains various inlets and odd-shaped walls. According to the article:

Two years ago, the Red Sox installed Verizon’s distributed antenna system (DAS) technology to accommodate all those smartphone tweeters in the stands but even putting in that gear—and the Meru Networks routers for Wi-Fi—was a challenge for a ballpark that is on the National Register of Historic Places.

While some on-premises applications and servers do still run from the small server room at Fenway Park, most of the organizations’ IT facilities are located off campus in a collocation facility. Conley said that about seven years ago, it was clear that IT had overrun its space at the park and finally settled on collocating much of its data center operations with the Markley Group, located in downtown Boston.


The Red Sox aren’t alone in their issues dealing with older facilities. Many universities, such as Bucknell University in Pennsylvania, have faced huge challenges when attempting to accommodate the Wi-Fi demands of classroom and student mobile devices. Many universities are home to early twentieth century historical buildings that can’t be altered for wiring and have dense infrastructures that often present issues with Wi-Fi signals not penetrating walls or floors.

However, despite infrastructure-related issues, SyncPorts.co.uk has even mastered setting up Wi-Fi in twelfth century inns. Through combinations of Netgear access points and existing Wi-Fi routers, the company fashioned a system that works. To overcome main power requirements, they installed an eight-port Power over Ethernet (PoE) switch and provided “access points with power from their network cables.”

Finding a way to make the latest and greatest technologies work within older buildings may be a challenge, but as these examples have shown, a bit of creativity can overcome the obstacles and bring most any facility into the twenty-first century.



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