Emmanuel College Deploys Campus-Wide 802.11n Smart Wi-Fi Infrastructure With Ruckus Wireless
SUNNYVALE, Calif., Sept. 2 /PRNewswire/ — Ruckus Wireless(TM) announced that it has been selected by Emmanuel College (Emmanuel) to replace its existing 802.11g Wi-Fi network with a campus-wide 802.11n wireless LAN (WLAN) based on Smart Wi-Fi technology.
Smart Wi-Fi represents the next generation of 802.11 innovation that combines technical advances in RF signal routing and adaptive antenna arrays with centralized WLAN management. The combination of these technologies enables a centrally-controlled Wi-Fi environment that provides dramatically better coverage and more reliable Wi-Fi signals that automatically adapt to environmental changes, thereby delivering more consistent performance to users at long distances.
The decision by Emmanuel to migrate to Smart Wi-Fi came after we received numerous complaints from users about dropped connections, poor performance and spotty coverage offered by the existing college WLAN which was based on conventional 802.11g technology.
“We were wasting hours chasing Wi-Fi ghosts,” said Glenn Toney, IT Director at Emmanuel, a private Christian College in Northeast Georgia. “With such a large campus, it was difficult for us to quickly pinpoint and resolve Wi-Fi problems. We spent hours literally running around from building to building resetting APs and trying to determine the cause of RF problems. Many times problems would simply appear and then disappear.”
Emmanuel College occupies some 150 acres of property with more than 30 single- and multi-story buildings constructed of metal and thick concrete. These include dormitories, academic classrooms, office buildings, libraries, dining halls and other facilities.
“Though these buildings were made to last, they just aren’t Wi-Fi friendly,” said Toney. “We had no real way to determine how Wi-Fi signals would propagate throughout each facility. We really needed a wireless system that could intelligently route Wi-Fi signals over the best path to users, around obstacles and interference over which we have no control, without requiring us to spend countless hours trying to place APs in the ‘right’ spot.”
Wi-Fi Challenges for Higher Education
Like many higher education institutions, Emmanuel College had a limited IT staff and budget. In addition to fixing fundamental Wi-Fi coverage and performance problems, Emmanuel was looking to provide higher speed Wi-Fi services using 802.11n, along with advanced security and secure mobile access to multiple users groups. Ease of use, flexible deployment options and seamless integration with existing back-end Active Directory servers were other non-negotiable requirements.
“Colleges are in a tough spot because they want and need a high-end wireless system but don’t always have the massive budget or resources to implement one,” said Toney. Toney began looking at options from Trapeze Networks, Cisco and others but found these alternatives too costly and cumbersome to implement. Emmanuel was then introduced to the Ruckus Wireless ZoneFlex Smart WLAN system through its IT solutions provider, KOR Systems.
Emmanuel selected the Ruckus ZoneFlex 802.11n system and began standardizing on the technology across its campus. The Ruckus ZoneFlex Smart WLAN system allowed Emmanuel to move to 802.11n technology using fewer APs than would be required by alternatives and at a price point that nearly mirrored existing 802.11g technology.
“Our budget effectively ruled out a centrally-managed 802.11n system until we found Ruckus,” said Toney. “Ruckus had a more intelligent and cost-effective implementation of 802.11n that adds value where others don’t such as controlling the signal path to ensure reliable connections and performance.”
Smart Wi-Fi Solves College Wi-Fi Woes
Now deployed, the new 802.11n network provides ubiquitous Wi-Fi coverage through 31 ZoneFlex Smart Wi-Fi access points. Central management is provided through the Ruckus ZoneDirector Smart WLAN system which directly interfaces with Emmanuel’s Active Directory authentication server.
“The ability to natively communicate with Active Directory without having to deploy a RADIUS server or any other device in-between was huge for Emmanuel,” said Bernard Davis, IT Design Engineer for KOR Systems in Gainesville, Georgia. “The importance of making Wi-Fi deployment easy and simple while still providing a high-end feature set for colleges and universities cannot be overstated.”
Davis noted that when Emmanuel expands its new Wi-Fi network to service other locations where Ethernet cabling doesn’t exist, the school won’t have to worry. “The system has built-in support for Smart Mesh Network technology, helping to future proof expansion.”
This gives Emmanuel complete deployment flexibility to add capacity where and when needed without having to run new Ethernet cabling or perform exhaustive RF surveys. “This is the ideal solution for providing Wi-Fi service to outdoor quads, patios and other areas. And the entire system can still be managed in a unified fashion,” concluded Davis.
Emmanuel is now providing multi-tiered user access using WPA2 and other secure access options and can now pinpoint and resolve Wi-Fi problems in minutes from a central point instead of spending hours roaming around campus. With the Ruckus ZoneFlex system they’ve also seen user complaints dwindle, and customer satisfaction increase. “We now get a lot of ‘what did you do?’ comments from users who were resigned to a hit or miss Wi-Fi experience. There’s now no question — it’s a hit,” concluded Toney.
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