When a major act comes onstage at the Walmart Arkansas Music Pavilion, “the throughput and the number of connections on our Wi-Fi just skyrocket,” IT Director Jon Downey says. That’s why the venue upgraded its network with Juniper switches and access points.

May 16 2024

Enterprise Network Upgrades Deliver Powerful End-User Experiences

The network of tomorrow is possible right now, companies and experts say.

Editor's note: This article was originally published in March 2024 and has since been updated with new, relevant information.

Last summer, when alt-pop star Lana Del Rey took the stage at the Walmart Arkansas Music Pavilion in Rogers, Ark., the outdoor venue’s network lit up with more than 6,000 fans streaming live video all at once.

“As soon as the headliner comes on, the throughput and the number of connections on our Wi-Fi just skyrocket,” says Jon Downey, IT director for the Walton Arts Center, which operates a 1,200-seat indoor proscenium theater and a 250-seat black box theater in Fayetteville, Ark., along with the Walmart AMP, an 11,000-person outdoor venue in Rogers. “It’s a neat metric to watch,” Downey says.

Such connectivity would not have been possible before the 2022 season, when the AMP undertook a major network refresh.

The previous network had been built up ad hoc over nearly a decade and needed state-of-the-art infrastructure and a strategic design. The AMP upgraded its wired access and core segments with Juniper EX4400 and EX4650 switches, deployed Juniper Mist AP43 Wi-Fi 6 access points and started using Juniper Mist Cloud and Mist AI to manage it all.

“The refresh was really a business decision,” Downey says. “Sure, we needed to fix some of the technology, but we were focused on what we wanted to do at this property over the next seven to 10 years.”

Click the banner below to learn how upgrading to Wi-Fi 6E can optimize your network connections.


A Faster Network Increases Revenue

A robust network has become a core component of business success in recent years, powering critical use cases such as mobile point of sale and remote work.

“As an IT team, you want to be an enabler for the business, not a roadblock,” Downey says. “Legacy infrastructure that can’t support high-quality connectivity to a large number of users will impact your business’s ability to take advantage of new use cases.”

Before the AMP’s network refresh, the line of concertgoers would coil outside the venue prior to showtime, stalled by ticket scanning delays. It took show staff between 13 and 15 minutes to scan in 1,000 people, compared with just seven to eight minutes today. That means the venue can be filled up to 75 minutes faster for a sold-out show.

Concessions were also limited by the previous network, as vendors could set up only in certain locations and often had to swipe payment cards multiple times. The upgrades have fixed those issues, boosting concession revenues by more than 20 percent.

“The business, the patrons and the tours no longer have to wait on technology,” Downey says. “Whatever they want to do, the network is going to support it.”

Network Speed Drives User Experience

For Zero Latency VR, a free-roam virtual reality gaming company with two dozen locations in the U.S. and 60 more around the world, the importance of lightning-fast network connectivity is right there in the business’s name.   

Until a recent network refresh, players had to wear 13-pound backpacks that contained computers connected to their headsets. But the company’s move to Cisco Meraki MS120 switches and Cisco Catalyst 9166 Wi-Fi 6E access points has changed that, says CTO Scott Vandonkelaar.

“Upgrading the network has had a major impact on how immersive the experiences are,” he says. “Because of the network’s low latency, the virtual worlds are rendered on a computer separately, and they’re shown to players via their headsets. That allows for faster graphics processing and a more consistent experience. Players feel like they’re in a different world.”

Jon Downey


At the same time, Meraki’s centralized management dashboard is critical to helping the company manage connectivity and ensure performance.

“Our team has one interface to configure, monitor and troubleshoot the entire network infrastructure, including the Wi-Fi access points,” he says. “The best part is, the technology now just works. Customers can play for longer, they’re more comfortable, and they have a seamless experience from the moment they suit up until the game is complete.”



Network Switches Are Key to Connection Speed

Technology professionals at Chase Center in San Francisco, home of the NBA’s Golden State Warriors, have found that not only is the network refresh journey never-ending but the cycle also moves faster than ever.

When the venue opened in 2019, only about half of fans were using mobile ticketing; today, they all do, and the arena has nearly tripled the number of locations that support mobile food and beverage ordering.

“Those use cases are incredibly reliant on connectivity,” says Daniel Brusilovsky, vice president of technology for the Warriors. “A lot has changed over the past several years from a consumer expectations standpoint, but the mission and the vision have stayed consistent, which is that we want to create the most connected experience possible.”

Upon its opening, Chase Center was one of the first major venues with Wi-Fi 6 access points. Already, IT staffers have replaced that infrastructure, installing 600 Wi-Fi 6E access points from HPE Aruba Networking, making Chase Center the first major North American arena with a Wi-Fi 6E wireless network.


The portion of IT professionals who cite the increase in remote work as a major challenge to securing enterprise networks

Source: Cisco, 2023 Global Networking Trends Report, February 2023

The Warriors organization is also looking to replace edge and core switching, with plans to install HPE Aruba Networking CX 6300 switch series starting this summer.

“The bottleneck is no longer the access point,” Brusilovsky says. “It’s now actually the switch, and that’s why we’re upgrading.”

He says the organization has been aggressive in future-proofing its network due in part to its partnership with HPE Aruba Networking, but also to meet expectations of fans, many of whom are high-profile executives in Silicon Valley tech: “The expectation from our fans is that they will be able to bring any device and it’s not just going to work but work exceedingly well.”

Brusilovsky doesn’t yet know what upgrades will prove necessary over the next few years, but he is certain that the organization will keep improving its network.

“Whatever is coming, I’m confident that we will be able to implement things in a way that puts the fan at the center of everything we do and makes us a better business as well,” he says.

Photography by Dero Sanford

Learn from Your Peers

What can you glean about security from other IT pros? Check out new CDW research and insight from our experts.