Columbia Public Schools standardizes on Ruckus for Gigabit Wi-Fi

Schools are moving to Gigabit Wi-Fi in order to meet bandwidth demands

ruckus-wi-fiRuckus Wireless, Inc. has been selected by Columbia Public Schools to supply next generation Ruckus Smart Wi-Fi products and technology.

This is one of the nation’s first production deployment of Gigabit class Wi-Fi using the industry’s newest 802.11ac Wave 2 specification access point (AP). Other schools making the move to Ruckus Wave 2 Gigabit WiFi include Shelby County Schools (TN), Pitt County Schools (NC), and Vancouver Public Schools (WA).

Covering 300 square miles between St. Louis and Kansas City, Columbia Public Schools (CPS) is deploying more than 1,400 Ruckus ZoneFlex™R710 802.11ac Wave 2 APs. These access points are managed through a cluster of Ruckus SmartZone™ 100 controllers to serve over 18,000 students and staff, and nearly 20,000 Wi-Fi-enabled devices across more than 30 K-12 schools.

Next page: More about the move to Gigabit wi-fi

“The move to Gigabit Wi-Fi services reflects the broader requirement for educational institutions across the country to deliver much more wireless capacity,” said Dan Rabinovitsj, chief operating officer of Ruckus Wireless. “This demand for capacity is being fueled by the need for wireless bandwidth in and out of the classroom, along with the influx of increasingly powerful smart mobile devices being used to access media-rich content and online digital curriculum. The Ruckus ZoneFlex R710 is simply the best performing and industry’s only shipping access point capable of delivering Gigabit WiFi services.”

According to IDC, there has been a shift in the verticals that fuel the majority of the WLAN market growth, with Education continuing to be one of the strongest, as increasing mobility requirements in schools require higher-speed and more robust wireless networks. IDC expects 802.11ac APs will primarily be deployed to replace 802.11n equipment, representing 73.3 percent of all pendent APs shipped by 2017.

“Fast and reliable WiFi access in now simply an imperative for delivering a 21st century education,” said Christine Diggs, director of Technology Services for Columbia Public Schools. “The fact of the matter is that outside of the classroom, technology is such an important part of everyone’s lives that it must be seamlessly integrated into the educational environment and process.”

Diggs added, “Our move to a complete district-wide Gigabit-class infrastructure gives us the power to address future requirements, many of which are hard to even anticipate. This move increases our ability to support more users at any given time and extends the life of our infrastructure over a much longer period.”

With a unique mix of urban, rural and suburban students, Columbia Public Schools had stringent requirements to support much higher client densities at higher speeds—demands that its legacy HP Wi-Fi infrastructure was unable to meet. According to school officials, the amount of man-hours required to keep the wireless network up and running was “staggering” but that’s now been eliminated with their new Ruckus Smart Wi-Fi infrastructure.

The CPS Wi-Fi infrastructure is used to support a range of applications and services, such as teacher evaluations, in-class collaboration, guest access, student information systems, Apple Air Servers, Google Apps, scientific simulations, video streaming and IP-based security cameras.

Columbia Public Schools considered a number of suppliers. According to district officials, the Ruckus equipment was able to deliver twice the Wi-Fi capacity, and higher levels of TCP throughput at longer ranges, with a 60 to 70 percent reduction in the number of access points required.

“Our goal was to push these boxes to their limit to see where they’d break by throwing as many unicast HD video streams at them as they could bear,” said Aaron Heath, network specialist at Columbia Public Schools. “With the Ruckus ZoneFlex R710, we simply couldn’t break it and were able to push more than 90 clients streaming HD video to a single AP. We just ran out of clients.”

The dual-band Ruckus ZoneFlex R710 access point offers significant increases in Wi-Fi performance and range, delivering up to 5dB of signal gain and aggregate data rates of over two Gigabits per second (Gbps).

In addition, the ZoneFlex R710 is equipped with dual Gigabit Ethernet ports with link aggregation support to satisfy peak throughput requirements for maximum investment protection.

“For Columbia Public Schools, the Ruckus products spoke for themselves. But more importantly, we felt the Ruckus philosophy about delivering the best possible WiFi performance and reliability within highly dense client environments really mirrored our own,” concluded Diggs.

Material from a press release was used in this report.

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