Are You Selling VoIP-Ready Wi-Fi?
A VAR secures a $50,000 install by providing a wireless mesh network
that can accommodate VoIP (voice over Internet Protocol) services in
Sometimes gaining an edge over your competition doesn’t come down to what your and your competitor’s solutions can accomplish now, but what kind of future scalability and new applications a solution will enable down the road. Ronco Communications & Electronics, Inc. (Ronco) is a networking, VoIP, and wireless systems integrator/software developer with 340 employees and an anticipated $80 million in sales revenue this year. One significant install win Ronco recently landed was with Niagara County, which includes Niagara Falls, Lewistown, Wilson, and Youngstown, NY. The county was looking into ways to boost its tourism appeal and wanted to implement a few wireless hot spots in some of its biggest tourist areas such as Niagara Falls. Niagara County worked with the ECIDA (Erie County Industrial Development Agency), which is a government agency dedicated to implementing IT projects and securing federal and state funding. Through ECIDA’s help, the county was able to obtain a grant for $50,000. Ronco, which had previously worked with Niagara County, was one of the systems integrators bidding on the job. “The fact that we represent Nortel wireless and telephony products, which the county already uses, gave us an advantage,” admits John C. Wrona, executive VP of sales and marketing at Ronco. “What sealed the deal, however, was showing the agency how the Nortel wireless network could be used for voice and data applications.”
Ronco used Nortel’s wireless mesh solution for the implementation, which included Nortel 7220 wireless APs (access points), Nortel 7250 wireless gateways, Nortel IP VPN (virtual private network) routers, and the Network Operations Support System (NOSS). The NOSS includes Nortel’s Enterprise Network Management System and industry-standard FTP (file transfer protocol), RADIUS (remote authentication dial-in user service), DHCP (dynamic host configuration protocol), and SNTP (simple network time protocol) servers.
Inside the 7220 APs are two radio modules, which support the IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers) 802.11a transit link and the 802.11b/g access link bands. The transit link includes a six-beam, 5 GHz antenna subsystem for the RF (radio frequency) backhaul links to other AP 7220 nodes in a mesh configuration. There is a single access link (AL) 802.11b/g radio per AP 7220 with two switched antenna diversity connections. Access link antennas provide omnidirectional coverage with spatial and polarization diversity.
The overall implementation took six months to complete. One of the biggest challenges Ronco faced was working with municipality authorities to gain access to the light poles where the APs were mounted. Additionally, the ECIDA was already working with a small Web developer that Ronco subcontracted to create customized splash pages that tourists would see before accessing the Internet. “Because of the complexity of the project, we had to wait for the Web developer to reach certain goals during the install,” recalls Wrona. “For example, the Web developer was responsible for providing back end functionality to the wireless network, which included content filtering and Web hosting services.”
One Successful Metro Wi-Fi Install Leads To Many More
After successfully rolling out the wireless solution, Ronco hopes to become the ECIDA’s go-to partner. Since the installation, the integrator is proposing a $250,000 wireless mesh network install with the city of Buffalo and a $100,000 wireless mesh install with the town of Orchard Park. “The really exciting news is that there is still more than $1 million in government funding available for future projects,” says Wrona. “We’re currently working with ECIDA to continue rolling out public hot spots in upstate New York.” In addition to earning revenue from hardware sales and implementation services, Ronco earns recurring revenue by providing postsale support and remote monitoring services.