Reliable, Cost-Effective Wireless Solution Meets Unique Requirements of Avon Old Farms Hotel
Surrounded by 20 acres of manicured grounds, brick walkways and colorful flowerbeds, Avon Old Farms Hotel has provided gracious hospitality to guests in Avon, Connecticut's Farmington Valley for more than 40 years.
Avon Old Farms Hotel first opened as a 24-unit motel in 1955, and through two expansions has grown into a 42,000 square-foot, 160-room luxury hotel with an atrium lobby and an outdoor pool. The facility includes standard and deluxe rooms, meeting and banquet facilities and two restaurants.
The hotel's owners understood that today's guests require broadband Internet access, and they set their sights recently on installing it throughout the facility. However, the original building and subsequent additions were in no way designed with complex wiring systems in mind. There existed no access panels, no drop ceilings and no basement in which wires could be run. Additionally, some areas of the facility could only accommodate surface-mounted wire, which was wholly unacceptable for a high-end lodging facility. Electricians who toured the site quickly determined that wiring on almost any level was physically and financially unfeasible.
Clearly, an alternative approach was needed. Avon Old Farms Hotel owners contacted Co-Owner and Chief Engineering Specialist David Doiron at Wrenthem, Massachusetts-based Blueport for help. Blueport (previously sedTech Solutions, Inc.) specializes in providing high-speed Internet connectivity to shopping malls, hotels and motels, marinas, convention centers, restaurants and RV parks.
As Doiron recalled, “There was no way to get wires where we needed them in the hotel. Imagine a two-story building with a one-story connector and then a four-story building, all within a U-shaped structure – getting wires where we needed to get them was just impossible. We had an electrician tour the facility with us, and he said he wouldn’t touch it – and this is a guy who runs wires for a living.
Doiron and Blueport determined that a wireless broadband network would provide the ideal solution - and Winncom Technologies Corp. would be the perfect solutions provider for the task. Based in Solon, Ohio, Winncom focuses on distribution of wireless LAN/WAN networking systems, data communications infrastructure products, and related software to VARs and system integrators such as Blueport. 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, healthcare, 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.
“When we decided to go outside with a campus deployment, we called Winncom,” Doiron said. “We sat down with them, described the building and the challenges of a deployment in it, and established our end goals up front.
Turning the entire facility - and everything within an eighth of a mile surrounding it – into a virtual “hot spot” would provide 100 percent coverage without the cost or risk involved in room-to-room wiring. Still, Doiron admits to some apprehension at the outset about the prospects for success. “I’ll admit, we were a little nervous mainly because of its size and composition. Part of it is a steel four-story building with the brick veneer, and another part is a wooden building with brick veneer. Picture a large U, the tips which are some 1,100 feet apart. It's an enormous structure.
Doiron made some preliminary equipment selections, but Winncom Technical Support Engineer Peter Pinter suggested alternate antennas and access points that provided far better coverage and greater reliability. Through Winncom, Doiron specified Proxim's Orinoco Wireless Smart Access Point AP-2500, designed for 802.11b, 802.11a wireless networks in hot spot locations. The AP-2500 Access Point is a full-featured wireless bridge that supports both IEEE 802.11b (2.4 GHz) and 802.11a (5 GHz) networks simultaneously. Dual slot architecture provides configuration flexibility and increased network capacity through the use of two Network Interface Cards and allows configuration of both private and public wireless LANs for enterprises supporting guest access. Featuring an active Ethernet support, the AP-2500 is a robust solution for hot spot deployment, offering maximum uptime mandated by the client. While some boxes from alternative manufacturers require frequent re-booting, the Proxim AP2500 is an enterprise-class box, which makes it ideal for a deployment such as Avon Old Farms.
Doiron also specified a WRW 2400-13H90 outside antennas. The rugged, lightweight and easy-to-install 2.4-2.7 GHz Frequency Band WRW 2400 is 13dBi sectorized and features a flat panel design, low wind load, an RF connector interface and horizontal polarization. The antennas measure 25.5 x 8.5 x 7.5” (65 x 21.6 x 19 cm), and all are sealed.
Installation of the broadband network took about six hours spanning one day. Remembers Doiron, “We fabricated a mounting bracket for the antennas which weighs about 90 pounds, and then we mounted them. We also had to run some lines thru the building. We proceeded to install our equipment at a few access points, and then we tested the facility. We physically walked the facility, entering as many rooms as possible.”
The system tested perfectly. Upon completion, the entire hotel was transformed into a single hot spot. From just about anywhere in the building – rooms, bathrooms, common areas, parking lot, conference room, pool, pool house, and up to an eighth of a mile away – guests can now gain immediate access to the Internet.
In looking back, the deployment proved easier for Doiron than initially thought. “On a 1-10 degree of difficulty scale, engineering this building was probably an eight. But deployment of the network was a three,” he said. “Once we figured it out with Winncom, and once we got a good hard look at some of the white papers on the equipment that we selected, installing it was a piece of cake. We had four buildings to install that weekend, and Avon Old Farms Hotel was the biggest footprint – and the easiest – of the four.”
The cost savings associated with a broadband deployment versus standard room-to-room wiring was substantial. Doiron estimated that even if wiring Avon Old Farms Hotel was feasible, the cost would have ranged from $50,000 to $60,000. “If you had to run wires in all 160 rooms and put in reamplification points – easily two and maybe four – just the switches and the patch panels on those rooms alone would have cost $15,000 - $16,000, and they got the whole wireless network for just under $16,000.”
Prior to this deployment, Doiron and Blueport have on several occasions worked with Winncom. However, the Avon Old Farms Hotel job reinforced an already-strong relationship between the two leading organizations. “We worked with Winncom before – it was probably our fifth or sixth project with them – but I’d definitely say that the results of this deployment solidified our relationship with them. Their Web site is set up very nicely; you can drill through the all the antennas and pick and choose exactly what you need. Delivery-wise, those guys are right there - they get stuff to me within one to two days - they-re always available on the phone, they know how to treat customers, and the expertise they offered gave us great comfort.”
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 Blueport, Inc.
Blueport, Inc. provides high-speed Internet connectivity to facilities frequented by the public. Blueport’s management team is determined to provide high quality solutions in wireless technology for today's needs and tomorrow’s dreams. For more information about Blueport, call 866-239-6400 or visit www.blueportwireless.com.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.