Hospital Rejuvenates WLAN Network - Page 2

Airespace supports seamless roaming not only between access points but among switches. That was key to Bronsons plans to let the staff make Wi-Fi phone calls as they walked through the tunnels that connect the five buildings on the hospital groups main campus.

The initial deployment is close to fruition. It comprises 130 access points and four Airespace 4102 switches, all of which run the Airespace Control System management software.

Eventually Mello plans to spread the wireless support from the five main campus buildings to approximately a dozen satellite facilities.

"The objective is to have the entire campus wireless by the end of 2005 so that not only can our staff roam from facility to facility to maintain connectivity, but our guests can also use the network to access hot spots," Mello said.

The new WLAN is already improving vital administrative functions such as processing computerized physician order entries and electronic medical records, Mello said. Once the WLAN is fully implemented, Bronson plans to equip some of the doctors with Tablet PCs.

Bronson also plans to use the WLAN to keep track of its mobile medical equipment with RFID tags.

"Were looking at doing asset tracking to be able to track components that are usually misplaced but are mission-critical to the business, like IV pumps and wheelchairs," Mello said.

Wi-Fi-based RFID tagging is growing in demand, especially among customers whose assets tend to roll away, according to Airespace officials in San Jose, Calif.

"We are beginning to see the tide of health care customers looking for asset tracking," said Matthew Glenn, director of product management at Airespace. "I would say that it is in the early phases, but it looks like this is the next big application for health care."

Mello is pleased with his choice of Airespace gear. But for that same reason he is also concerned with the fact that Airespace may not be Airespace for much longer.

Last month, Cisco announced a definitive deal to buy Airespace for $450 million in stock and assumed options. Pending federal approval, the deal is expected to close by the end of April.

"Weve worked with Cisco over the years, and their service level hasnt been the greatest," Mello said. "Sometimes an organization can get so large that the service level is reduced. But our greatest concern is whether Cisco will end up reducing its feature set as it is absorbed into the product line."

Cisco has yet to announce its integration plans for the Airespace gear, but, in the meantime, Airespace officials are telling current customers to rest assured.

/zimages/3/28571.gifClick here to read more about Ciscos acquisition of Airespace.

"I guarantee you that the quality of our gear is not going to suffer," Airespaces Glenn said. "This is at the top of everyones list. Cisco is going to honor service and support for existing Airespace customers, so, in many ways, these are the first customers to benefit from the acquisition."

That said, the Cisco acquisition enforces Mellos decision to buy his gear through the channel.

"A key part of going through a reseller is that theyre accessible, they know us personally and they can provide the face-to-face service as needed," Mello said. "If something significant happens, they can get to the key partner much faster than we ever could."

Hanna echoed the sentiment that a VAR helps allay fears during a vendor merger.

"In general, all of our customers call us first," he said. "And were not going to drop Airespace just because Cisco bought them."

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