Ruckus Wireless Networks – Installations for Schools and Businesses

A new Ruckus Wireless network is an excellent choice of WiFi for schools from Classroom365 and suitable for single sites or multi-academy trusts. There are many benefits to choosing Ruckus for schools:

  • Fast, high-performance network with Ruckus WiFi 7 – the latest generation of smart WiFi technology.
  • Suitable for high-density, tough environments like old Victorian schools.
  • Easy deployment of access points.
  • A mid-range price point for hardware and licencing.
  • Simple cloud management software.
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Learn more about a new Ruckus installation from Classroom365, and complete our contact form below for advice and a free site survey.

What is Ruckus Wireless?

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Ruckus Networks is a popular WiFi equipment manufacturer owned by CommScope. They are less well known than wireless suppliers such as Cisco and Aruba, who dominate the corporate environment, but offer something different, more affordable and somewhat less daunting to set up and manage effectively.

Our installation team at Classroom365 installed our first Ruckus WiFi network in 2008, and we have continued trusting the brand since then, offering schools their affordable and reliable managed wireless networks. It is our WiFi solution of choice in a competitive field of WiFi hardware.

A Ruckus access point (WAP) differs from your average home WiFi, working with other WAPs across a site to maintain optimal WiFi coverage and changing frequencies to eliminate interference between the access points. They do this using a Ruckus WiFi controller. Until Ruckus Unleashed was released in 2015 and their Cloud Management in 2016, each Ruckus WAP was managed by an onsite Zone Director.

The Zone Director has recently been superseded and made redundant with the next-generation Ruckus Cloud WiFi. A client is a device connected to the WiFi network, such as a laptop or mobile phone.

Ruckus is one of the wireless hardware suppliers for the DfE Connect the Classroom Scheme, which upgrades schools’ WiFi in specific areas of the UK called Education Investment Areas. You can read all about it on our website.

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Is Ruckus Good WiFi?

Ruckus WiFi 6 offers schools and businesses a fast, reliable wireless solution. Additional Ruckus access points can easily be added to a network with physical cabling, or Ruckus Mesh WiFi can be implemented. The recommended Ruckus Cloud wireless controller is feature rich with load balancing and Ruckus radius server options. Ruckus Unleashed is a simple deployment option for smaller sites, using the built-in WAP controller to manage the access points.

A Ruckus Cloud solution is considerably less expensive than offerings from Aruba and Cisco.

As well as installing site-wide WiFi, we install wireless bridges. A wireless bridge is like an invisible network cable joining two sites that cannot be connected by ethernet or fibre, for example, two buildings separated by a road. We have used the Ruckus P300 effectively with schools to connect remote sites to the main school site. You can read more about wireless bridge installations on our page dedicated to WiFi in schools, which applies equally to business premises and corporate enterprises.

Ruckus WiFi Controllers

With its “controller-less” configuration, Ruckus Unleashed is suitable for most minor sites; however, we recommend Ruckus Cloud management for small to mid-sized organisations.

Ruckus Cloud WiFi

Ruckus Cloud WiFi management provides single-site and multi-site enterprises with single-interface wireless management and the ability to manage and monitor multiple WiFi networks under a single login.

A Ruckus Cloud controller has replaced the onsite Ruckus Zone Director used to manage Ruckus access points in the past. In the cloud, you use a browser to access the console to set up, configure and manage the WiFi, with no physical hardware to go wrong. Replacement Zone Directors are now hard to procure. Still, if you run an older Ruckus WiFi network, the good news is that WAPs can be upgraded with firmware and enrolled onto the Ruckus Cloud wireless platform with a licence upgrade.

ruckus wireless network

This, of course, depends on the Ruckus access point model and whether it is a cost effective solution. Please contact us for advice; we will be happy to help.

Ruckus SmartZone Network Controllers

A scalable implementation is required for large-scale deployments across multi-sites and enterprises that require a high performance network, universal management and monitoring tools. A Ruckus SmartZone controller can be a physical or virtual appliance that gives network managers a single software interface to manage Ruckus APs and devices on a network. It can manage up to 30,000 access points and over 3,000 switches. This is not for a primary school!

What is Ruckus Unleashed?

Ruckus Unleashed uses the inbuilt controller on individual WAPs, enabling the access points to “talk to each other”, with one of the access points acting as a master controller. Ruckus Unleashed is free and an ideal low-cost option for smaller sites or those with a Zone Director failure.

The installation process is relatively easy if you know your way around IP addressing, as you may need to change the default IP for the initial setup. It would be best if you also were comfortable with completing firmware upgrades:

  • Perform a hardware reset on your Ruckus WAP. Most have a small button underneath or use a paper clip.
  • Perform a firmware upgrade on all the access points. Check the hardware compatibility first with the Unleashed firmware you wish to install, as older APs may not work.
  • Configure the first AP with the Ruckus Wizard, and then you can connect to the other (firmware-upgraded) access points.

Converting to Ruckus Unleashed depends on the model of the Ruckus access point and whether it is a cost effective solution. Please contact us for advice; we will be happy to help.

What is Ruckus Mesh WiFi?

Ruckus Smart Mesh is a way of deploying Ruckus access points where it is difficult or impossible to install network cabling to the Ruckus AP’s location. Network cabling is usually required to connect the access point to the physical network and provide power over ethernet, known as POE. With a Ruckus Mesh, some of the WiFi bandwidth is used to create an invisible link between the access points to create a wireless mesh network; think of it as a giant spider web.

One advantage of a Ruckus Mesh is that the network is self-healing, so if one AP drops, the mesh heals by reconnecting with another. This is useful in establishing reliable WiFi in hard-to-reach areas of a building.

Choosing the Right Ruckus Wireless Access Points?

Ruckus offers a wide range of WiFi hardware for all education and business environments. The most widely used by us at Classroom365 in schools are detailed below, along with some large-scale deployment solutions. All have gigabit ethernet, adaptive antenna technology, WiFi 6 (802.11ax) and dual-band WiFi.

Ruckus R550

The most cost-effective Ruckus wireless access points we at Classroom365 use in our most recent WiFi deployments. With load balancing and the Ruckus BeamFlex technology, they work well in tough environments such as schools, hospitality WiFi and corporate enterprises, providing excellent coverage and performance throughput up to 1.8 Gbps.

The R550 replaced the WiFi 5 Ruckus R510.

ruckus unleashed installation

Ruckus R650

A mid-range WiFi AP and replacement for the R610 offer greater throughput of up to 3 Gbps and broader coverage. The Ruckus R650 suits an open-plan environment or a school WiFi network, with a shared access point between two classrooms separated by a partition wall.

Ruckus T350 and Ruckus T750

These outdoor Ruckus WAP solutions are suitable for playgrounds and outdoor venues requiring WiFi coverage. A 1 GbE for the T350 or 2.5 GbE for the T750 ethernet port and weatherproofing allows for reliable WiFi range, whatever the weather. A site survey by Classroom365 will determine which outdoor access point will be most suitable.

Ruckus R850

The R850 is the top-of-the-range WAP from Ruckus. With the capability of over 1,000 concurrent users and a 5 GbE backbone, the R850 is suitable for high density environments such as public arenas.

Planning Your Ruckus WiFi and Best Practices

Planning a new Ruckus WiFi network starts with a site survey from Classroom365. We can initially give a quotation on the technical hardware required, but to provide an accurate quote, we will need to complete a wireless site survey to determine the following:

Building layout and WiFi coverage requirements

This includes the number of classrooms or offices and what separates them. A new Ruckus installation or upgrade will be different for a modern new build school compared to a Victorian school with thick brick walls. Likewise, an open-plan office environment requires a unique wireless setup and configuration.

Existing network cabling infrastructure

The existing network cabling must be inspected to see if it is suitable for the new WiFi infrastructure. Many old sites have degraded Cat5 cabling, which should be replaced with Cat6. Fibre uplinks and network routes for new access point locations must be considered and planned for.

Patch panels, network switching and POE considerations

The new Ruckus WiFi APs should be installed using POE. Managed smart switches with POE will need spare capacity and enough spare patch panel connections for the new WAPs. Any fibre uplinks and long ethernet cable runs need to be determined.

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What is the Cost of Ruckus Wireless?

Ruckus is a mid-tier WiFi manufacturer sitting somewhere between Aruba and Ubiquiti Networks. Ruckus’s high-end products cater for enterprises of 30,000 users plus, but our experience is with small to mid-sized organisations such as schools and education campuses.

Controller hardware and Ruckus access point prices, vary considerably as they are not retail products. The online prices vary greatly, with significant discounts for the education sector.

This is where our WiFi experts can assist. We will gladly give some advice, a free site survey and a quotation.

ruckus wi-fi access point

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Is Ruckus Hardware Available?

Due to the global microchip shortage, many Ruckus access points and the associated WiFi hardware, such as controllers, were unavailable at short notice, with many having long lead times. These supply issues have now been resolved.

Please get in touch with Classroom365 for availability.

Is Ruckus WiFi 6?

The latest generation of Ruckus WiFi access points from the R350 to the R850 are all WiFi 6 and backwards compatible.

Does Ruckus Need a Controller?

A Ruckus WiFi access point can be configured as a standalone WAP. For their full functionality, with multiple access points, they need a WiFi controller, such as Ruckus Cloud, or configured for Ruckus Unleashed using the built-in controller.

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