The Empire Palms Apartments is a 58-unit apartment complex located in a quiet residential neighborhood of the coastal community of Ventura, California.
The owner of Empire Palms, George Fonti, wanted to offer an amenity to attract new tenants and entice existing tenants to stay longer. Believing that a wireless Internet service would be a strong value-added service, he asked Tim Phillips at Ventura-based Aletho Technologies for a solution.
With three main buildings to cover and few options to run cables, Phillips turned to Open Mesh’s zero-configuration mesh network technology. He brought in three DSL lines from a local Internet Service Provider to different points within the complex, which he then connected directly to Open Mesh single-band access points.
Phillips added 14 additional access points throughout the complex to ensure full wireless coverage in every unit and all common areas. For these ‘repeater’ units, which only require power, he installed Open Mesh’s wall covers to secure units in place and prevent theft and tampering. The three DSL connections and multiple repeaters provide excellent redundancy for the network: if one of the connections or individual units goes down, the network automatically self-configures and self-heals.
The full deployment took less than a day and was complete less than a month after Fonti first contacted Aletho Technologies.
“It went flawlessly,” said owner George Fonti. “And it’s been operating well ever since. The wireless service is often the deciding factor for new residents to lease an apartment, and for existing residents to stay longer.”
Using Open Mesh’s cloud-based network controller, CloudTrax, Phillips set up the Empire Palms network to have automatic outage alerts, bandwidth throttling and a
voucher system to limit access to residents. He also monitors the network and can troubleshoot problems quickly on the rare occasion residents call.
“There have been very, very few support calls,” said Phillips.
The system was so successful that Fonti asked Phillips and Aletho Technologies to install, monitor and support Open Mesh wireless systems at his other Santa Barbara-area properties.
"The wireless service is often the deciding factor for new residents to lease an apartment, and for existing residents to stay longer."
Phillips credits Open Mesh’s unique approach to wi-fi as a key element of what has made this project, and others he’s installed throughout California, a success.
“Most hardware vendors would suggest a high power antenna to get wide coverage in a situation like this,” said Phillips. “But this doesn't work because laptop, smart phone and tablet antennas are unable to transmit all the way back. You need many small antennas in an apartment environment, and Open Mesh offers a smart, easy and affordable solution.”
The network is performing even better than expected, added Phillips. “Our goal was to provide basic Internet—e-mail and web surfing—but we are finding that some users are using their gaming systems as well as watching TV online. Tenants love it—they are genuinely appreciative of the service.”