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Monterey Jazz Festival

Monterey Jazz Festival


  • Longest running jazz festival in the world features the legendary acts over 3 days
  • Festival's first-ever WiFi-enabled event used Meraki for staff and guest networks
  • Robust, outdoor network outdoor transferred over 10GB of data to 35,000+ attendees

The Monterey Jazz Festival is the longest continuously running jazz festival in the world. Since its start in 1958, the Festival has been held on the 20-acre Monterey County Fairgrounds, and this year was no different. Encircled by large oak trees, the venue hosted 38,000 attendees who saw over 500 artists perform on eight stages. Besides featuring world-renowned jazz musicians like Tony Bennett, Trombone Shorty, and 2011 GRAMMY® award winner Esperanza Spalding, the Monterey Jazz Festival wanted to provide event WiFi.

“A lot of attendees bring iPads and mobile devices to the festival,” said Kimberly Knight, Marketing Director for Monterey Jazz Festival. “With our Monterey Jazz Festival App for iPhone and Android devices, we wanted to have free WiFi so that everyone can use their technology at the Festival.”

Alvarez Technology Group (ATG) was contracted to deploy and manage the free high-speed wireless across the expansive, heavily wooded fairgrounds. Curtis Thomas, Director of Managed Services at ATG, recognized that wireless reliability would be key when he learned that Yamaha’s Disklavier RemoteLive technology was to be incorporated into some of the Monterey Jazz Festival performances. RemoteLive allows a pianist to transmit, in real time over the Internet, his or her precise keystrokes and pedal activities to other networked Disklavier pianos. The WiFi network allowed the piano to be conveniently moved around the stage without worrying about Ethernet cabling.

From the beginning of the day when there were only 10-15 users to later in the day with hundreds upon hundreds, there was no real change. Meraki is unmatched.Curtis Thomas, Director of Managed Services

In order to flawlessly showcase pianist/singer Judy Roberts on her Yamaha AvantGrand piano, and support thousands of visitors carrying mobile devices, choosing to deploy high performance Meraki access points was a “no brainer,” Thomas said. “We’ve tested other solutions, but we’ve consistently had the most success with Meraki. Other equipment we’d tried in the past didn’t have coverage in half the areas we needed them to.”

Alvarez Technology Group combined a mix of high-performing indoor Meraki MR16 access points with outdoor Meraki MR58 and MR66 APs to ensure superior coverage across all eight stages.  “We went with the MR58 because it is more robust and we could just leave it outside,” Thomas said.

With a few mouse clicks in the Meraki dashboard, Thomas set up four separate SSIDs including a private network for Monterey Jazz Festival staff and performers, two ticketing systems, and the free public network for attendees, which ATG throttled down to protect bandwidth. Thomas was particularly thrilled by the ease of deployment enabled by cloud management. “That is one of Meraki’s biggest selling points,” Thomas said. “Not having to configure every access point just makes it easier and saves us so much time.”

Kimberly Knight also felt reassured that ATG was deploying Meraki. “We had folks who were concerned about WiFi for this year’s event and with Meraki on board, I could tell them with full confidence that our WiFi would be better than ever,” she said.

Over the Festival’s three days, the wireless network transferred over 70 GB of total data to over 2,000 clients, with 50% of the data on the guest network alone. “Even in a high density situation, Meraki had no problem handling the number of users,” Thomas said. “From the beginning of the day when there were only 10-15 users to later in the day with hundreds upon hundreds, there was no real change. Meraki is unmatched.”

The Monterey Jazz Festival’s WiFi allowed attendees to use iPads and other mobile devices to watch the live stream of the festival, access apps, check email, tweet, and upload photos and videos of performances via their phones. The Festival’s organizers were also able to promote the 2012 Monterey Jazz Festival application for iOS and Android devices, which allowed users to check performance schedules, view a map of the fairgrounds, study food vendors’ menus, and explore available arts and crafts offerings. Over 1,400 users downloaded the Monterey Jazz Festival Application over the course of the weekend.

While festivalgoers celebrated the legacy of jazz, the Alvarez Team celebrated a smooth network deployment. “Everything worked the way it was supposed to work,” Thomas said. “Truthfully, the Meraki system was seamless.”