Lending a Helping Hand to Families in Need
Winncom Technologies Helps Integrate Wireless Solution At Memphis Ronald McDonald House
Located a quarter mile from the world-renowned St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, Tenn. is the Ronald McDonald House. Since 1974, Ronald McDonald Houses throughout the United States have provided a home-away-from-home for families of seriously ill children who are receiving treatment at nearby hospitals. Each house serves as a temporary residence near a medical facility where family members can sleep, eat, relax and find support from other families in similar situations. Today, there are nearly 240 Ronald McDonald Houses in 25 countries around the world. These, in turn, are supported by more than 30,000 volunteers who donate one million hours of their time annually.
In late 2004, John Fleskes, owner of Memphis-based Cetacea Sound Inc., learned that a family he knew had recently stayed at his local Ronald McDonald House in conjunction with a visit to St. Jude. He called the parents, asked them how residents accessed the Internet within that facility and was shocked to learn that only three PCs were available - each with a dial-up modem. As Cetacea's Chief Operating Officer Clark Hinds explained, "If you fly into Memphis, take your child to St. Jude and find out that he or she has a certain disease or condition, you'll want to look that up on the Internet immediately afterward and get vital information about treatment. For parents staying at the Memphis Ronald McDonald House that wanted to do research online, they had to leave their child in the room, go down to the front desk, sign out the key to the computer room and share one of those three computers with all the other guests".
Fleskes realized that a better alternative was clearly needed, and he knew that his company was uniquely positioned to provide it. Since 1980, Cetacea has offered high-quality fixed and mobile wireless systems, along with a full array of parts and support equipment. The Company possesses wide expertise in a variety of communications and data systems, telematics, specialized design, engineering and manufacturing, systems modifications, equipment logistics, fleet services, warehousing, systems repair and maintenance.
Given the capabilities of his business, Fleskes contacted officials with Ronald McDonald House and offered to donate the time, equipment and labor necessary to install wireless communication capabilities and online access throughout the two-story, 60,000 square-foot facility. Ronald McDonald House officials gratefully accepted, but it was clear to Fleskes that they hadn’t had much exposure to this still-emerging technology. “You could tell they were a little skeptical going in,” remembered Hinds. “Wireless networking, particularly in large buildings such as this, remains in its infancy, so they really didn't know what to expect.”
CALLING ON THE RIGHT SOLUTIONS PROVIDER
Hinds was charged with orchestrating the project from inception to completion. His first task was to solicit the assistance of a capable and trusted distributor and supply donated equipment from a top manufacturer. Hinds immediately turned to Solon, Ohio-based Winncom Technologies Corporation for help. Hinds had worked regularly with Winncom for nearly two years after receiving a strong recommendation from wireless manufacturer Proxim. The relationship between the two companies has flourished ever since. "Once we found ourselves in the thick of the wireless LAN business, I asked some folks at Proxim who they’d recommend as a distributor, and they referred me to Winncom," Hinds said. "They're highly thought of in Proxim circles, and they've been a wonderful company to deal with. What they say will happen always does, and it happens on time and on budget."
Winncom focuses on distribution of wireless LAN/WAN networking systems, data communications infrastructure products and related software to VARs and system integrators. Winncom also provides a full range of value-added services, including system design, installation, reseller training and certification, and technical support. Through its large network of resellers, Winncom supports a wide range of applications and markets, including wireless local and wide area networking, Internet access, health care, education, the military, industrial automation, data acquisition, and telecommunications, among others. Winncom Technologies has established a reputation as a top-tier supplier of products and services in the wireless data communications industry.
To meet the facility's unique needs, Hinds called on Winncom technical specialist Jeffrey Schloss for advice in selecting the best possible equipment. Said Hinds, “I really trust Winncom to get us the right equipment for whatever job we're working on. There are times when I'll call up and think that I know what I want, and after talking with Jeff, I’ll find out that I really didn’t know what I thought I knew. He'll often say, "I can save you some money and give you a better product. Every businessman looks for that."
Based on a thorough understanding of programmatic requirements, Schloss recommended ten (10) Proxim ORiNOCO AP-700 Access Point units for installation throughout Ronald McDonald House. However, Schloss' involvement far surpassed a mere recommendation; in fact, he leveraged a longstanding relationship with Proxim to persuade company officials to donate all ten units.
The ORiNOCO AP-700 balances enterprise-scale security, management and quality of service features with a moderate price point – and either 802.11a or 802.11b/g mode operation. The new, high-performance AP-700 is the entry-level solution in Proxim’s next-generation line of access points supporting enterprise voice and video applications. The AP-700 is perfect for mid-size production Wi-Fi networks and facilities such as the Memphis Ronald McDonald House. Features include: industry-leading performance with new Super Mode; a new level of intelligent rogue access point and client detection; sophisticated hotspot interfaces with Radius integration; pre-standard IEEE 802.11e quality of service support for latency-sensitive applications; and plenum rating along with other important safety features.
The ORiNOCO AP-700 enables secure, high-performance wireless networks with important features including support for IEEE 802.11i with AES encryption, and more advanced rogue AP and client detection. The new security and performance features of the AP-700 are part of Proxim's Release 2.5, a major software enhancement that is now available across the entire family of ORiNOCO access points.
IMPLEMENTATION MADE EASY WITH WINNCOM AND PROXIM
Knowing the radiation patterns and capabilities of the antenna system that Winncom recommended, Hinds and his crew at Cetacea were able to gauge the power output of access points at Ronald McDonald House. Consequently, they conducted a site survey to identify likely access point mounting spots. As part of the process, they took an access point and antenna system, elevated it on a pole in a few typical locations, lit the access point and then continued the site survey with a hand-held air magnet. This provided a general sense of RF signal levels that would result from the installation. They repeated this process several times prior to actual installation.
When the time came, The AP-700s were installed onto Cetacea's ERMA (Extended Range Mobile Access) panels and then placed at predetermined locations throughout the facility. Cetacea was particularly sensitive to the needs of Ronald McDonald House residents during installation. As Hinds recalled, “There are some pretty special rules when you work there. The first one: You look at your crew and say, ‘Are all of you felling okay today?’ Any runny noses, any sniffles, any coughing is not allowed. The last thing you want to do is go there if you’re not feeling well, and a couple of times we had to call the job off because someone had a cold. Whenever we removed ceiling tiles to pull cable, if a patient or parent was walking down the hall, we ceased all work. These children are very delicate.”
The system was installed in about three days with no interruption of service to Ronald McDonald House residents. Today, the entire facility functions as a wireless environment, enabling parents and their children uncompromised access to e-mail and the Internet, wherever they are, and whenever they desire.
The success of the Memphis Ronald McDonald House installation inspired Cetacea to approach patient and family housing facilities sponsored by Target Corporation and the National Basketball Association’s Memphis Grizzlies and potentially donate similar services and equipment in the future. Discussions are ongoing, and Hinds hopes to begin installations in each facility soon.
In reflecting on the Ronald McDonald House experience, Hinds credits both Winncom and Proxim for stepping up in support of a good cause. “You couldn’t pick a worthier recipient of this than the Ronald McDonald House here in Memphis, and we couldn’t have accomplished what we did with better partners than Winncom and Proxim,” he said.
About Winncom Technologies Corp.
Winncom Technologies Corp. is a value-added distributor providing Wi-Fi and Broadband Wireless products and services, VoIP, VPN and other wireless networking related products and services to resellers and partners throughout North America and Europe. Winncom has established a reputation as a leader in distributing wireless networking, with highly qualified sales, engineering and technical support personnel focused on these solutions. For more information please visit www.winncom.com or call 888-WINNCOM (888-946-6266) or 440-498-9510.
About Proxim, Inc. Proxim, Inc.
(Nasdaq:PROX), the leader in wireless networking, delivers a complete range of flexible, multi-standard wireless networking solutions for enterprises, service providers, small businesses and homes. With more than 15 years at the forefront of wireless networking innovation and product development, Proxim has solutions that meet the unique needs of every market. Proxim is a member of the Wireless Ethernet Compatibility Alliance and a Promoter of the Home Radio Frequency Working Group. The company is headquartered in Sunnyvale, Calif., with offices globally. Visit www.proxim.com for more information.