US-based Ruckus Wireless announced that Hughes Electrical has selected and is deploying Ruckus smart Wi-Fi products and technology across its retail outlets in the UK. The new smart Wi-Fi infrastructure, centrally managed by Hughes IT staff within its cor porate headquarters, is used to connect and demonstrate hundreds of in-store multimedia consumer electronics products such as smart televisions, wireless music systems and other consumer products now equipped with Wi-Fi.
“Almost every new consumer product coming to market today has an embedded Wi-Fi capability. To effectively demonstrate and sell these products, customers want to actually see and understand how to use them in a live environment. The problem we faced was the inability to concurrently and reliably connect hundreds of multimedia devices simultaneously in our stores. Our existing wireless kit, based on conventional Wi-Fi technology, simply wasn’t able to cope with the capacity or traffic demands essential to running our business,” says Tim Pearce, IT manager at Hughes Electrical.
Hughes Electrical, which also operates under the brand Apollo, has over 43 stores across East Anglia and The Midlands. It had previously installed conventional Wi-Fi technology in an attempt to connect the products in its stores, being forced to build out the network by adding additional access points (APs) to expand coverage and capacity as its Wi-Fi demands grew.
However, they found that the network would frequently crash under the strain of so many devices. Often a single device would monopolise bandwidth on the Wi-Fi network, rendering other products on display technically impaired. It was also soon evident that building out the network with additional APs was counterproductive, as the APs operated autonomously with no coordination between them. This caused disruptive co-channel interference between adjacent units and an inability to manage the APs as a unified Wi-Fi infrastructure across all Hughes Electrical stores.
“When it comes to Wi-Fi, Hughes would be considered a super user,” observes Fred Astfeldt, network security specialist at Advanced Network Security (ANSecurity), a Ruckus Alpha Dog Partner and the systems integrator that designed and installed the new Ruckus Smart Wi-Fi infrastructure.
“As the consumer electronics market has evolved, it became apparent that Hughes needed to move to next generation Wi-Fi technology that could deliver the power, reliability and capacity to connect a huge number of devices without any complications. Several providers were considered, but Ruckus simply offered the most powerful, dependable and cost-effective kit on the market,” adds Astfeldt.
After evaluating a variety of equipment from competing Wi-Fi suppliers such as Aerohive and others, Hughes selected the Ruckus ZoneFlex™ system. The company is now deploying hundreds of dual-band Ruckus ZoneFlex™ Smart Wi-Fi indoor access points in all of its locations. All the Ruckus APs are remotely managed from a central point through redundant Ruckus ZoneDirector™ 3000 Series wireless LAN (WLAN) controllers installed within the Hughes network operations centre (NOC).
According to Hughes officials, one of the biggest benefits of the new Ruckus Smart Wi-Fi system has been the reduction of support calls from stores. IT support staff at Hughes were receiving three-to-four calls a day from frustrated store employees unable to get the Wi-Fi stable enough to demo products. “Once the Ruckus kit was installed, those calls effectively vanished,” admits Pearce. “Streaming high definition multimedia traffic over Wi-Fi from so many devices requires a new class of Wi-Fi system discretely designed for that purpose. The Ruckus system, with its integrated adaptive antenna array technology, is simply in a different league and has helped increase in-store sales. It has proven to be an ideal choice for our capacity and multimedia streaming needs.”
With the Ruckus Smart Wi-Fi infrastructure now in place across all Hughes stores, their new network provides the ability to enable future value added services such as wireless point-of-sale (POS), mobile advertising and location-based Wi-Fi services (LBS).