Wi-Fi bridges the digital divide in Avondale

The Ruckus Room recently visited Avondale to speak with Joe Bradley, an Account Executive at Powernet, about his company’s vision for the diverse Cincinnati neighborhood. According to Bradley, Powernet has deployed public Wi-Fi infrastructure to help bridge the digital divide for the neighborhood’s residents.

“Our vision is to use Wi-Fi to connect people with everything that everyone else takes for granted. [For example], most of us have cell phones and internet at home,” he explained. “When we go home we’re so used to jumping right on the internet. But in Avondale, that’s not the case. So, we envisioned making that the case for everyone – so that everyone has the same opportunity as their neighbor [does].”

According to Brent Baker, Director of Network Services at Powernet, the company’s most important requirement for a public Wi-Fi deployment in Avondale was radio frequency (RF) performance.

“Many of [Avondale’s] buildings are very old, and the construction is predominantly masonry. In addition, we were restricted on where we were able to mount hardware,” he elaborated. “[This means] the ability to [effectively] penetrate walls and make do with sub-optimal mounting locations made RF performance crucial. [Fortunately], Ruckus delivers the best RF performance in the industry.”

The Avondale public Wi-Fi network topology, says Baker, uses a mix of Ruckus T300 (outdoor) and Ruckus R610 (indoor) access points (APs). The access points are managed with Ruckus’ Virtual SmartZone Controller which is hosted in a Powernet data center.

As Bradley tells The Ruckus Room, the reaction to the public Wi-Fi deployment has been phenomenal.

“[It’s just] been incredible. We have seen that the impact in the neighborhood goes far beyond what we ever expected,” he stated. “There were some people [who] we didn’t [even] know were disconnected. [They] are now connected and very happy. So, it’s been amazing how the internet is really impacted by neighborhoods.”

Libbie Au, a senior development project manager at The Community Builders (TCB), expressed similar sentiments in an interview with The Ruckus Room. According to Au, the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Choice Neighborhood grant has served as a “spark plug” for development and transformation in Avondale.

“We have worked very hard to leverage that funding,” she added. “We’ve invested funds in over 318 units. We’ve also made investments with people partners to try to get access to services and things to help uplift the people who live in not only our buildings but also in the neighborhood.”

As Au notes, both PowerNet and Ruckus have been tremendously helpful to work with over the years.

“We’ve worked with PowerNet and Ruckus to really implement this vision. It’s been a tremendous opportunity and I know the residents and the people who are working here and have benefited from the service,” she added.

Interested in learning more about Ruckus Wi-Fi deployments with our partners? You can check out our customer story page here and our YouTube channel here.

 

 

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