4,000-Student High School Moves to 802.11n Wireless

Lyons Township High School of LaGrange, IL, has chosen Ruckus Wireless to upgrade its LAN to an indoor/outdoor 802.11n wireless network covering its two entire campuses, comprising one of the largest high schools, in physical area, in the country.

LTHS, which serves 4,000 students and maintains more than 200 classrooms in several buildings and facilities on its LaGrange (north) and Western Springs (south) campuses, located about a mile apart.

Achieving full wireless coverage of an operation of such magnitude posed a significant challenge, according to Edward Tennant, director of technology for Lyons Township High School District 204.

"The move to 802.11n on such a large scale looked like a daunting and expensive task," Tennant said. "We weren't just waiting for 802.11n to be ratified. We were waiting for an 802.11n solution that could support multimedia, provide unified indoor and outdoor coverage under a single management structure and that we could deploy and manage easily and at a reasonable cost. This wish list was hard to fill."

One condition that made it even harder was the age of the school, which was founded in the 1880s. Consequently, the construction of some of its buildings, with concrete floors, very thick walls, and wire mesh in the glass, made them less than ideal for Wi-fi penetration. With the previous 802.11g system the school employed, these obstacles made an access point necessary in every room in order to achieve the desired coverage.

The school evaluated WLAN systems from providers such as Xirrus, Aruba, and Cisco before deciding on the Ruckus ZoneFlex system, chiefly because of its ability to extend signal coverage with fewer access points. A school spokesperson also noted the system's ease of installation and management, low cost of ownership, and multimedia support.

"We looked at a lot of gear and found the Ruckus system was the only one that could easily adapt to the changing Wi-Fi environment while supporting multimedia flawlessly," said Tennant. "We also needed a unified system that could be deployed indoors or outdoors with or without Ethernet cabling. Outside of Ruckus, it was difficult to find a supplier that could provide a comprehensive system within a simple and affordable solution."

Tennant said the advanced technological features of the Ruckus system will also make outdoor and remote WiFi access easier to achieve. He cited the system as offering "the best value at the lowest overall total cost of ownership."

About the Author

Scott Aronowitz is a freelance writer based in Las Vegas. He has covered the technology, advertising, and entertainment sectors for seven years. He can be reached here.