Large FLA District Deploys Wireless LAN

Hillsborough County Public Schools has begun deployment of a district-wide 802.11n wireless LAN network designed by RedCell Technologies’ engineers. The new network includes Aruba Networks’ Instant controller-less WLAN solution to support the growing number of mobile devices used by students, faculty and staff.

Hillsborough County Public Schools is the eighth-largest school district in the United States, covering a geographic area the size of Rhode Island, but had wireless access in just 20 sites with limited coverage. The district needed a wireless solution that was cost-effective, easy to manage and able to scale across all of its 267 schools.

Funding for the project was obtained through the E-Rate Program, which provides school districts and libraries with the financial resources needed to improve their network infrastructures. The district selected RedCell Technologies and Aruba through a competitive bid process.

“We were impressed with the functionality of the Aruba equipment and the solution designed by RedCell Technologies,” said Sharon Zulli, Manager of Technology Customer Service and Support, Hillsborough County Public Schools. “We definitely got the feeling from RedCell Technologies that they would help us along, because this was new to us.”

The E-Rate Program requires institutions to provide detailed specifications and meet critical deadlines in order to obtain funds for a particular project. Zulli said RedCell Technologies has been instrumental in helping the school district hit its benchmarks throughout the lengthy E-Rate approval process, which took more than a year.

“We knew that when E-Rate funding finally was approved we would have just one year to complete the implementation district-wide,” she said. “The RedCell Technologies engineers worked closely with us while approval was still pending, setting up a pilot project at one of our schools so we could try out the solution. They committed a lot of resources to make this project successful.”

The network features more than 3,500 Aruba Instant access points (APs), which provide high-density Wi-Fi support, seamless roaming and full survivability in the event of AP or WAN link failures.

RedCell Technologies is staging the access points to support the aggressive project timeline. The company will also work with a third-party contractor that will complete the cabling and AP installation.

“We need to complete a number of schools each month to get everything done within the calendar year deadline,” Zulli said. “Thanks to the efforts of RedCell Technologies, we are prepared to roll out the solution to all our schools very quickly.”