Santa Clara USD Launches Multi-year 802.11n Deployment


Santa Clara Unified School District in Northern California is launching a multi-year project to deploy high-speed 802.11n WiFi across 25 locations. The district will be using ZoneFlex Smart Wireless LAN systems from Ruckus Wireless for the deployment, according to information released recently by the district.

For the implementation, Ruckus will be supplying indoor and outdoor access points and centrally managed WLAN systems for 25 elementary schools, middle schools, high schools, and other facilities. The ZoneFlex system was selected following a four-month competitive evaluation process conducted by the district.

"Nowhere is reliable Wi-Fi needed more than within the education market where the environment is fluid, information is rich and demands for consistent connectivity is high," said Mary Phillips, director of technology at SCUSD, in a statement released last week. "Up to now Wi-Fi has been largely a science-project for most school districts. But now there's no question that we are headed for an all wireless world and must find a better means to provide more reliable and higher speed connectivity to a wide range of users and applications. We finally found it."

The deployment will include ZoneFlex Smart WLANs, "hundreds" of access points, ZoneFlex Smart Mesh Networking to provide bridges for WiFi signals between buildings, and a dedicated gigabit ring connecting SCUSD schools.

"As a school district, we wanted a unified wireless infrastructure that was flexible and didn't lock us into a particular architecture or require us to pull more cable," said Phillips. "The Ruckus system lets us to deploy access points individually or with a centralize controller, indoors or outdoors with wireless meshing enabled or not."

SCUSD serves some 15,000 students and employs about 1,000 staff members.

Ruckus has announced similar deployments at three other districts in the United States recently, including:

  • Tonasket School District in Washington, which is replacing its current 802.11g-based WiFi infrastructure with 802.11n across a massive 1,600 square miles;
  • Holland Christian Schools in Michigan, which is deploying 802.11n access points across its campuses to support its 1:1 laptop program, which includes more than 1,500 mobile devices, with about 95 percent of the users in the district on Apple hardware; and
  • Schenectady City School District in New York, which is replacing its legacy 802.11g WLAN across 22 schools to support more than 12,000 students and staff.

In related news, Ruckus Wireless has also launched a new technology match program, called "Smarter Wi-Fi for Education." The program will donate one free ZoneFlex 802.11n access point for every one purchased (with a minimum order of of 20 ZoneFlex 7942s, along with the "requisite ZoneDirector WLAN controllers"). The program is open only to schools and will run until the end of 2008. As of press time, no further information about the program was available.

About the Author

David Nagel is editorial director of 1105 Media's Education Technology Group and editor-in-chief of THE Journal and STEAM Universe. A 25-year publishing veteran, Nagel has led or contributed to dozens of technology, art and business publications.

He can be reached at You can also connect with him on LinkedIn at or follow him on Twitter at @THEJournalDave (K-12) or @CampusTechDave (higher education).

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