School System is First to Deploy Gigabit Speed Wi-Fi

August 6, 2015 — Columbia Public Schools in Missouri has broken new ground making the leap to 802.11ac Wave 2 standard Wi-Fi, which makes wireless as fast as wired Internet hookups. Previously the school system used an 802.11n network.

“802.11ac is now the defacto standard for Wi-Fi, not just for schools but for every enterprise that deploys Wi-Fi,” said David Callisch, Ruckus Wireless vice president. “This is the nation’s first production deployment of gigabit class WiFi using the industry’s newest 802.11ac Wave 2 specification access point.”

Ruckus Wireless has been selected to supply next generation Wi-Fi products and technology to the Missouri school system, which covers 300 square miles between St. Louis and Kansas City. More than 1,400 Ruckus ZoneFlexR710 802.11ac Wave 2 access points will be deployed , which will be managed through a cluster of Ruckus SmartZone 100 controllers to serve more than 18,000 students and staff, and nearly 20,000 Wi-Fi-enabled devices across more than 30 K-12 schools.

“Fast and reliable Wi-Fi 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.”

Other schools making the move to high-speed gigabit Wi-Fi include Shelby County Schools in Tennessee, Pitt County Schools in North Carolina and Vancouver Public Schools in Washington state.

“Wi-Fi provides the vast majority of Internet connectivity in schools. It is a utility for them. Why wouldn’t they opt for a technology that is as fast as a wired Internet connection? We think Columbia is a harbinger of where the market is going to go,” Callisch said.

Ruckus shipped the industry’s first enterprise-class 802.11ac Wave 2 product in the second quarter of this year.

Faster Wi-Fi Demands Faster Backhaul

Gigabit Wi-Fi won’t provide gigabit speeds unless the backhaul is up to the task. One company, WANRack, specializes in providing school systems with unlimited bandwidth growth for backhaul using a fiber-optic backbone.

Regarding Wave 2 Wi-fi, yes it’s the next generation of equipment taking folks to that next gigabit level via wireless. We’re very happy to see its introduction as the demand on the backhaul is even greater. This is where we come in, supplying the underlying fiber backbone which is 95 percent of any wireless network,” said Rob Oyler, WANRack president and founder. “So, as schools embrace these new technology roll outs, there’s no cap on their ability to embrace new technologies with our networks. Most incumbent local loop providers are the obstacle to these new implementations.”

Oyler is seeing increased interest in many platforms in general that are requiring exponential amounts of backhaul bandwidth from VoIP to IP cameras to Wi-Fi deployments.

“It’s validation of our rapid growth. We’re providing a service (unlimited bandwidth backhaul) that hasn’t kept pace with the needs of the end user. Wave 2 is just another example,” He said.