Smart WiFi for Hughes Electrical
on January 22, 2015
Electrical retailer rolls out improved WiFi network to support in-store demos
Hughes Electrical, the second largest independent electrical retailer in the UK, has deployed new smart WiFi technology across its outlets in the UK.
The retailer, which was founded in Lowestoft, Suffolk in 1921, rolled out Ruckus Smart WiFi products and technology, an infrastructure that is centrally managed by Hughes IT staff within its corporate headquarters.
Supporting in-store demos
The network is used to connect and demonstrate hundreds of in-store multimedia consumer electronics products, such as smart televisions, wireless music systems and other consumer products now equipped with WiFi.
“Almost every new consumer product coming to market today has an embedded Wi-Fi capability,” said Tim Pearce, IT manager at Hughes Electrical. “To effectively demonstrate and sell these products, customers want to actually see and understand how to use them in a live environment.”
“The problem we faced was the inability to concurrently and reliably connect hundreds of multimedia devices simultaneously in our stores,” he continued. “Our existing wireless kit, based on conventional WiFi technology, simply wasn’t able to cope with the capacity or traffic demands essential to running our business.”
Handling the traffic
Hughes Electrical, which also operates under the brand Apollo, runs over 43 stores across East Anglia and The Midlands. Hughes needed a more robust WiFi system that could handle the dense device capacity and streaming of multimedia traffic within a challenging WiFi environment that is riddled with all sorts of RF noise and interference.
Hughes Electrical had previously installed conventional WiFi technology in an attempt to connect the products in its stores, being forced to build out the network by adding additional access points (APs) to expand coverage and capacity as its WiFi demands grew.
The retailer found that the network would frequently crash under the strain of so many devices. Often a single device would monopolise bandwidth on the WiFi network, rendering other products on display technically impaired.
Unified WiFi infrastructure
It was also soon evident that building out the network with additional APs was counterproductive, as the APs operated autonomously with no coordination between them. This caused disruptive co-channel interference between adjacent units and an inability to manage the APs as a unified WiFi infrastructure across all Hughes Electrical stores.
After evaluating a variety of equipment from competing WiFi suppliers, Hughes selected the Ruckus ZoneFlex system. The company is now deploying hundreds of dual-band Ruckus ZoneFlex Smart WiFi indoor access points in all of its locations.
All the Ruckus APs are remotely managed from a central point through redundant Ruckus ZoneDirector 3000 Series wireless LAN (WLAN) controllers installed within the Hughes network operations center (NOC).
Fewer support calls
According to Hughes officials, one of the biggest benefits of the new Ruckus Smart WiFi system has been the reduction of support calls from stores. IT support staff at Hughes were receiving three to four calls a day from frustrated store employees unable to get the WiFi stable enough to demo products. “Once the Ruckus kit was installed, those calls effectively vanished,” added Pearce.
“Streaming high definition multimedia traffic over WiFi from so many devices requires a new class of WiFi system discretely designed for that purpose. The Ruckus system, with its integrated adaptive antenna array technology, is simply in a different league and has helped increase in-store sales. It has proven to be an ideal choice for our capacity and multimedia streaming needs,” concluded Pearce.
With the Ruckus Smart WiFi infrastructure now in place across all Hughes stores, the retailer’s new network provides the ability to enable future value added services such as wireless point-of-sale (POS), mobile advertising and location-based WiFi services (LBS).
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