Helenswood School goes wireless with Ruckus

Ruckus Wireless has installed a new wireless LAN (WLAN) at Helenswood Girls School in East Sussex, providing reliable Wi-Fi coverage for all members of staff and all pupils using school laptops. 

The new network provides complete coverage across the schools two sites, is centrally manage to reduce the burden on IT staff, and will scale to support the growing number of students using laptops in the school.

Helenswood Girls School is an 11-18 girls comprehensive in Hastings, East Sussex, with approximately 1200 pupils and 100 members of staff.  Helenswood first recognised the need to provide reliable wireless connectivity within the school building almost two years ago, and consulted internet security and connectivity reseller Net-Ctrl.  At the time, Net-Ctrl offered solutions from Aruba and BlueSocket but after an initial site survey to assess requirements, the proposed quotes were significantly above the schools budget and the project was deferred.  Following this, Helenswood continued to use consumer wireless routers but these failed to deliver the required coverage and the school and Net-Ctrl kept a look-out for an alternative solution to meet the schools needs.

In April 2008, Net-Ctrl partnered with Ruckus Wireless and began offering the companys ZoneFlex wireless LAN solution which uses Ruckus patented Smart Wi-Fi technology that effectively eliminates the problems of instability and unreliability traditionally associated with Wi-Fi.  Net-Ctrl and Ruckus were able to provide the same level of coverage for Helenswood at a considerably reduced sum.

Following a two-week trial period, Helenswood School decided to purchase the Ruckus solution and bought 24 Ruckus ZoneFlex 802.11g access points (APs), two 802.11n APs to provide a wireless backhaul, and the Ruckus ZoneDirector 50 management console.  Each AP is capable of supporting 32 users.

The Ruckus solution was not only the best on price, it was also a reliable and robust system, said the senior technician at Helenswood.  The network was installed over the summer and since the start of term, its been working with no problems staff and pupils can easily connect and carry out their tasks on their laptops without the worries of losing connectivity, wherever they are within the school.

Smart Wi-Fi represents the next generation of 802.11 innovation that combines technical advances in RF signal routing and adaptive antenna arrays with centralised 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 across multiple sites.

Partnering with Ruckus has enabled us to bring the benefits of wireless to more public sector organisations like Helenswood, said Mark Power, wireless security specialist at Net-Ctrl.  Helenswood was not only able to complete the project on budget and on time, but the solution has also been really easy to set up and manage.  The Ruckus APs automatically mesh with each other, and the management console is so simple to use that the IT staff at the school can get on with other tasks, confident that the Wi-Fi network is running problem-free.

Currently most staff at Helenswood have laptops, and additional laptops are being introduced for pupils use within the school.  Over the next few years, the school has plans to provide laptops for many more pupils.  It was therefore essential that the WLAN could easily scale to support additional devices.

Until recently, so many organisations like Helenswood have made do with consumer wireless devices, but these are really not up to the job and as Wi-Fi and laptops become an integral part of the education system, their use is going to seriously impact school productivity.  A more reliable solution is essential as user numbers grow, said Jim Calderbank, director of enterprise sales EMEA at Ruckus.  The ZoneFlex solution effectively fills a market gap providing an affordable but robust solution for the educational environment.


About Ruckus Wireless, Inc.

Based in Sunnyvale, California, Ruckus Wireless is a next-generation Wi-Fi company credited with pioneering Smart Wi-Fi technology. Named a 2007 Technology Pioneer by the World Economic Forum, Ruckus Wireless was formed in 2004 at Sequoia Capital. The company designs, develops and markets industrial-strength Wi-Fi systems that provide reliable distribution of delay-sensitive multimedia content and services over standard 802.11 technology. Its flagship product, ZoneFlex, is the first wireless LAN system to combine the best in centralized wireless LAN principles with state-of-the-art Wi-Fi advances such as smart antenna arrays and wireless meshing. Its MediaFlex line of multimedia wireless routers is used by more than 125 broadband operators around the world to extend digital services such as IPTV throughout the home without wires.

The company's patented hardware and software technologies deliver predictable performance, extended range and real-time adaptability to changing Wi-Fi environments. The company has raised approximately $42 million in financing from premier venture capital investors, consumer electronics companies and broadband operators such as Motorola, T-Ventures, Telus, Sutter Hill Ventures, Mitsui, Sequoia and others. Ruckus Wireless is led by President and CEO Selina Lo.

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