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Meru Makes The Honor Roll In Philadelphia Schools

Meru Networks has come up from behind and apparently stole the prize for the
largest deployed Wi-Fi installation in North America. Publicized accounts
mention over 3000 access points installed at Ohio State University, and a
source has said that Microsoft has over 10,000 access points deployed
worldwide, both wins using Aruba Networks. In Australia Victoria's
Department of Education deploy a few more: 10,000 access points across 1700
sites in Cisco's autonomous mode. Previously hinted in the Mobile Observer newsletter, it's now public news that the School District of Philadelphia has
deployed over 7000 Meru radio switches in more than 90 schools. What's
remarkable is that this is just the beginning - contingent on further
funding from E-Rate, twice the existing number of schools will be deployed
to complete the project. A representative from Meru Networks predicted that
another third would be installed this coming year, and when that happens,
the district will have the most wireless access points of any organization
in the world. The School District of Philadelphia encompasses 268 schools,
166,000 students, and 10,000 teachers.

It was just a year ago that Meru announced their involvement with
Philadelphia's "School of the Future" project, an initiative led by
Microsoft. According to a school spokesperson in a radio interview with
NPR, Microsoft's involvement in the "School of the Future" was to provide
guidance and direction and they were not a significant financial supporter.
Key themes of the "School of the Future" project included using technology
and well-designed workspaces to help students achieve their maximum
potential. The wireless network, one component of that project's technology
infrastructure, was delivered by Meru.

Although the "School of the Future" has not been replicated to other
Philadelphia schools, Meru's Wi-Fi has. What was just a handful of wired
network drops per school has now been supplanted by a pervasive deployment
of Wi-Fi. Laptop carts, a rather typical mechanism for deploying computing
resources in educational environments, are used extensively. Meru's radio
switches work well in addressing the capacity concerns of dense usage in a
confined and open area. ( See Tech U: Compressed Air

Although Meru has delivered 7000 radio switches for the School District of
Philadelphia that represents 28,000 radios. Each RS-4000 ( See
RS4000 Data Sheet PDF
) actually
two access points built in, and each access point contains two radios (one
802.11b/g, one 802.11a). Normally this design would throw a wrench into
channel planning for traditional systems, but Meru has a single-channel
approach. That means the two 802.11b/g radios will likely operate on the
same channel, as well as the two 802.11a radios. Although an 8 and 12 radio
switch were announced several years ago, the RS-8000 and RS-12000, they
don't appear on Meru's website and it appears they were never generally

Avaya was the systems integrator for this project. Like all startups or
smaller companies, Meru benefits from a vendor with a recognizable brand,
market presence, and deep sales channel. Meru's relationship with Avaya
extends back at least 3 years. It began as a co-marketing relationship, but
in the summer of 2005 Avaya started reselling their product. One of Meru's
key marketing points is that it's well-suited for Vo-Fi, which fits well
with Avaya's enterprise PBX offerings.

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