Affinity WiFi installed Thetford Forest Camping and Caravanning Club venue with site wide WiFi back in 2010, originally using Engenius 2610P access points. Over time however, the campers requirements have changed, from simple email/web access on a laptop to streaming TV and movies on mobile devices. For a 170 pitch venue its been surprising to see in excess of 250 devices connected in peak times.
The hardware requirements between dealing with 30+ users to 250 concurrent users resulted in a redesign of the network (originally it was a WDS network using 2.4 for both guest and backhaul ) and at this time, it was decided to trial the Ruckus T300 access points. I’ve worked extensively with Ruckus in the past when I was Technical Director of Airangel WiFi and I only have good things to say about them.
The Switch to Ruckus T300
I must state that there is no comparison between the Ruckus and low cost access points: The Ruckus T300 is a beast of device, supporting hundreds of concurrent connections per access point, and offering both 2.4 and 5.gh client access and 5ghz Mesh Backhaul. They may cost more, but the performance increase is absolutely worth it with the venue seeing a drop between wireless mesh nodes to just 2ms! Ive worked on Wired networks in hotels with a higher latency than that.
The T300 come with an extremely flexible mounting bracket allowing for a range of mounting positions meaning we didn’t need to worry about bringing JBARs, T&Ks etc as we could use the existing hardware.
Cloud Managed WiFI
Once the Access Points were active, they were easily managed by the Ruckus Cloud vSCG showing network topology and link status. It also allows for easy network management – for example, we were asked to deploy a WPA2 staff network across the site which was deployed without a site visit saving the customer money. Tagging the staff network SSID with a separate VLAN also allowed staff to bypass the Captive Portal allowing them the freedom to stay connected whilst working on site.
The results were very impressive: We were able to carry out a speed test across the network ( 4 hops from Access point to Reception) and obtain the full 100MB available for the test ( we were limited by the 100MB port on the test laptop we were ). Thats a 4 hop Mesh Network, with a distance of approx 1/2 a mile. Even better, when bollard was tripped resulting in a power Loss to one of the Access points, the furthest node automatically found another route back to Reception and carried on working.
Based on these results, We are promoting the Ruckus T300 as the primary range of access points for our deployments. Whilst other providers are pushing cheaper alternatives, you owe it to yourselves to install the best. After all , your customers are not asking for cheap, slow WiFi – They expect a home-from-home WiFi service and the increase in bookings and positive reviews good WiFi will yield will far outweigh the slightly higher installation costs.
The trial finished in October 2016 and the system reverted back to a fully functional Mikrotik based WiFi solution that covers the entire park.