The San Francisco Unified School District Selects Ruckus Smart Wi-Fi to Transform the Learning Experience in Massive Wireless Upgrade
SUNNYVALE, CA – June 10, 2014 – Ruckus Wireless, Inc. (NYSE: RKUS) announced today that the San Francisco Unified School District (SFUSD), the seventh largest school district in California, has standardized on Ruckus ZoneFlex™ Smart Wi-Fi products and technology to address the need for pervasive and reliable wireless performance to support some 9,000 staff and 56,000 students who live in the 49-square-mile area of the City and County of San Francisco.
According to SFUSD, the district-wide Wi-Fi project is part of realizing its plan called Vision 2025, in which connectivity is the name of the game. In the re-envisioned SFUSD, new practices and new technologies create a rich web that connects students to teachers, parents to classrooms, teachers to teachers, the District to the city and beyond. In addition, a general dissatisfaction with the coverage and performance of its legacy Wi-Fi network, based on older, conventional Wi-Fi technology, drove SFUSD to a wholesale upgrade of its wireless infrastructure.
Also operating as the County Office of Education, SFUSD operates more than 125 schools ranging from pre-schools, elementary and K-8 to middle, high, and charter schools.
“Mobile device proliferation and the push toward digital curriculum is driving schools to redesign their wireless infrastructure to meet new capacity and connectivity demands created by the BYOD phenomenon,” said Erik Heinrich, director of Technology Infrastructure for SFUSD.
The bring-your-own-device (BYOD) trend sweeping through the education market is changing the face of teaching and learning as more students use their own devices at home and in school. A 2013 survey of more than 360,000 K-12 students conducted by Project Tomorrow, a leading education nonprofit organization, revealed that 80 percent of students in grades 9-12, 65 percent of students in grades 6-8, and 45 percent of students in grades 3-5 now use smartphones.
“Our legacy Wi-Fi infrastructure was never really designed to deliver anything more than basic administrative access,” said Heinrich. “As the Mobile Internet began to radically change wireless usage patterns, we realized we needed a serious upgrade to keep pace.”
Given the number and diversity of schools within the district, identifying a unified Wi-Fi solution flexible enough to accommodate each environment, while being able to adapt to its unique RF conditions, presented major challenges for SFUSD when considering new Wi-Fi options. Many of the schools were built in the 1930s and ‘40s in a variety of configurations; some covering an entire city block, with materials like lathe and plaster, cinder block concrete, and security glass with metal meshing that block or inhibit Wi-Fi transmissions.
“These are not wireless-friendly environments,” said David Burns, network manager for SFUSD. ”With our legacy wireless network, as the device population grew, we began experiencing severe coverage, connectivity and capacity issues. On top of that, our wireless LAN management didn’t scale and was cumbersome to administer. At one point we had six different controllers to cover all these schools, along with an orchestration agent to manage all the controllers. Things simply grew out of hand.”
Out With the Old, In with the New
SFUSD is now actively replacing its legacy district-wide Wi-Fi infrastructure with over 1,500 Ruckus ZoneFlex indoor and outdoor Smart Wi-Fi dual-band access points (APs). Ruckus ZoneDirector™ 5000 WLAN controllers, deployed in a fully redundant configuration, provide simplified management, administration and visibility for the entire Ruckus Smart Wi-Fi network.
Ruckus WLAN controllers work seamlessly with SFUSD’s Active Directory (AD) domain servers to provide student and staff authentication. With an AD account, students and staff can login to the network using their own Wi-Fi-enabled devices, with predefined user policies automatically enforced. The Ruckus ZoneDirector 5000 also provides SFUSD with an at-a-glance view of the number of different types of devices being used on the Wi-Fi network, as well as the ability to define user- or device-specific access policies.
In addition, high-capacity Ruckus ZoneFlex 7372 and 7982 APs uniquely integrating patented, adaptive antenna technology give SFUSD pervasive Wi-Fi coverage, with stronger signals that provide more stable client connections at higher speeds. According to SFUSD, their new Smart Wi-Fi network is four times faster than its legacy system, and comfortably supports 10,000 or more concurrent Wi-Fi client connections on any given day.
SFUSD’s new Smart Wi-Fi network also supports a myriad of wireless applications, ranging from standardized SBAC (smarter balanced assessment consortium) testing to wireless printers, as well as student and guest Wi-Fi access. Teachers, for example, can use mobile tablet devices to take attendance, access digital curriculum, and display streaming content to aid the learning experience.
According to SFUSD, with the new Ruckus Smart Wi-Fi infrastructure in place, students and staff are now empowered to collaborate and access information on the fly, wherever they are, without having to worry about wild performance fluctuations or erratic connectivity problems.
“Out of the box, the Ruckus system just works, without of a lot of kludgy configuration,” concluded Burns. “The hardware effectively configures itself, while giving us significantly better coverage at a much lower total cost of ownership, when compared to other suppliers. It’s that simple.”
“Enabling a 21st century educational experience required a 21st century wireless technology purposely designed to deliver wireless performance and connectivity as reliably as any other utility we operate,” concluded Heinrich. “This is precisely what we’ve been able to achieve with Ruckus.”
Ruckus, Ruckus Wireless, ZoneDirector, and ZoneFlex are trademarks of Ruckus Wireless, Inc. in the United States and other countries. All other product or company names may be trademarks of their respective owners.