Emmanuel is an expanding church of 700 people in the fast growing community of West Kelowna, British Columbia.
Located on a hill at the entrance to town, Emmanuel’s building has been a continual work in progress, with a number of different sections and building materials used for each addition through the last three decades. The main sanctuary in the church is actually a concrete-block gymnasium, built to accommodate the burgeoning youth program, Sunday worshippers and a steady stream of community functions.
Emmanuel’s Senior Pastor, Jeff Bjorgan, saw a need to greatly expand and improve the church’s wireless network, which consisted of a single access point from a local big-box store.
“We wanted to do three things with wireless,” explained Bjorgan. “Give staff the ability to access the Internet throughout the entire building, control our new wireless lighting and sound systems, and provide Internet access as a service to visitors.”
However, expanding wireless coverage seemed difficult with standard solutions. Aside from what existed in a small office network, data cables were never considered during construction, and Bjorgan knew adding them would be an expensive and challenging option.
When a few church members recommended Open Mesh hardware and CloudTrax, a cloud-based network controller, Bjorgan and church staff jumped at the opportunity.
The members installed one Open Mesh single-band access point in the network room as a ‘gateway’ unit hardwired in to the network, and added three additional power-only units as ‘repeaters’ to provide full wireless coverage throughout the property.
No cables were needed, and the installation was done in less than two hours. The total cost, including secure wall covers, was less than $300.
“We’ve been able to meet our goals and more,” said Bjorgan. “There have been no problems whatsoever.”
With CloudTrax, Emmanuel can monitor the wireless network, provide secure tunnels to the Internet for guests and visitors, and filter inappropriate content using a cloud-based DNS service.
"No cables were needed, and the installation was done in less than two hours. The total cost, including secure wall covers, was less than $300."
A few months after the installation, staff wanted to access their admin network wirelessly. The administrator simply logged in to CloudTrax and enabled a second SSID and bridge mode. Immediately, staff were able to access their secure wired network resources and printers wirelessly.
Since the installation, the church is seeing more opportunities and efficiencies with the wireless network. For example, they now have the ability to wirelessly check-in the more than 200 youth who attend weekly programs as well as the dozens of children in their Sunday Kid’s Church programs.
Overall, Bjorgan says that Open Mesh allows them to focus on ministry and not worry about the technology. “It just works,” he said.