Entre Solutions II and Unit 5 Schools Connect Athletes and Broadcasters of Tomorrow
Entre Solution II Deploys Mimosa for Schools
Entre Solutions II, an IT solutions and managed services provider, was selected to deploy networks at two high schools for sports broadcasting.
Design and deploy a reliable, high-speed, maintainable network that can connect multiple buildings, areas, and facilities.
Mimosa B5 and B5c backhaul radios were deployed for point-to-point (PTP) links, and A5 access points and C5x client radios were deployed for point-to-multipoint (PTMP) links.
Entre achieved 500 Mbps for the multipoint links, and 1 Gbps for the backhaul links, allowing them to successfully achieve their goal.
Entre Solutions II is a wireless connectivity integrator based in Bloomington, Illinois that specializes in outdoor and in-building solutions. The team, led by Nick Kunkes and Tom Blumenshine, has been designing, deploying, and maintaining solutions for customers in public, education, and other sectors since 2010. McLean County Unit District No. 5, known locally as Unit 5, is a school system serving nearly 14,000 students living across 11 congressional townships and the surrounding rural areas. The district has two high schools, each with a sports complex that has grounds dedicated to softball, baseball, soccer, football, and track and field. Initially, the high schools were using MiFi devices to provide connectivity for students and staff. Over time, the needs of the schools grew and the district embarked on a multiphase project which encompassed adding remote campuses and remote training facilities, as well as connecting additional maintenance storage areas and warehouses.
The stage covered here addressed the MiFi networks serving the two high schools that were no longer able to satisfy needs, resulting in a mix of poor and broken connectivity. In particular, the athletics department expanded its program to include video recording and broadcasting. The end goal was to enable friends and family of the student body to watch athletic competitions remotely. Making this dream a reality required networks that connected the all of the athletic grounds and the press boxes with the schools and district.
For McLean County Unit District No. 5 and Entre, reliability, maintainability, cost, and capacity were all requirements for the ideal solution.
The Entre team recommended a Mimosa-based solution, citing competitive pricing, trust in the brand from previous experiences, and ease of managing the network as key contributing factors. Nick Kunkes and his technical team designed the network leveraging the Mimosa Design Tool in the process. B5 and B5c radios were selected for the backhaul links—the longest of which extends two miles. And A5 access points and C5x client radios were chosen for the point-to-multipoint links. The final deployment comprised of 16 point-to-point links and five access points, with a minimum of four subscribers per access point. The solution Entre deployed exceeded the district’s needs and even brought about some new opportunities for both the integrator and the students. The network’s multipoint links have a shared bandwidth of 500 Mbps from the A5 access point. The backhaul for the district, which also connects one of the remote campuses, is capable of 1 Gbps. When asked about challenges faced during the project, Entre mentioned coordinating the bandwidth and traffic going back to the school took some effort, but there weren’t any issues with the hardware. The team said Mimosa products are extremely easy to work with, whether they’re deploying or maintaining the network.
A biproduct of connecting the athletic fields is that Unit 5 high schools are able to provide curriculum to students seeking careers in broadcasting by leveraging an application designed by the school, as well as live video feeds. Students can sit in press boxes and act the part of live broadcasters.
The district, satisfied with the project, awarded Entre additional projects for significantly improving connectivity at the junior high schools, and deploying a video surveillance network for the transportation offices to resolve issues with vandalism and fleet control.
When asked about the project overall, Tom commented, “I’ve done multiple projects like this, and Mimosa is easy to use, easy to manage, and a great product. They are just hard to beat. Everyone from the sports broadcasters, maintenance managers, IT directors, as well as the parents and grandparents that are now able to see their children and grandchildren competing were extremely happy with Entre and Mimosa.” Dusty Behrens, Network Administrator, McLean County Unit District No. 5 also commented, saying “the Mimosa PTP solutions has had a huge impact on the versatility and security at the NCHS & NCWHS sports fields. We are now able to live video stream the games and stream music onto the field instead of being limited to a set audio list. The video scoreboard can also now stay up to date instead of having to bring the device back into the buildings for updates. Being able to add Wireless Internet Connectivity in the press box has helped the media that provide coverage for the games. The biggest addition was adding surveillance cameras to cover the field and concession areas that helps keep everyone safe and secure.”