March 4, 2008 -- The Wyoming Supreme Court and three other district courts have deployed wireless LAN systems from Meru Networks, as the first steps in a plan to blanket the state's Judicial Branch with wireless coverage for judges, staff, attorneys, and court visitors by 2010.
According to a press release, Meru equipment is already in use at the Supreme Court building in Cheyenne and at district court buildings in Cheyenne, Laramie and Casper. Over the next two years, Meru wireless access points will be installed across district courts in all 23 Wyoming county seats, as well as in a number of the state's 30 circuit court locations.
The deployment makes use of Meru's newly announced AP302 access point, which lets users start with wireless networks that conform to current IEEE 802.11a/b/g standards and upgrade later to the high-performance IEEE 802.11n draft 2.0 standard, which supports access speeds as much as six times faster than previous standards, with only a software update.
Steven Dreher, chief technology officer for the Wyoming Judicial Branch, says the branch previously had a "fragmented, home-type wireless solution implemented locally, which gave rise to management and security issues. Our new approach treats the whole Branch as a single 'enterprise.' Traveling judges will have the same experience sitting in remote courtrooms as they would in their own. And outsiders - visitors to the court, attorneys looking up documents during a case - will have their own wireless 'walled garden,' kept separate from the court infrastructure using virtual LAN and security technology."
"We're very interested in 802.11n for future high-performance applications," Dreher adds. "But we wanted to start with enterprise-class wireless supporting 802.11b/g now and upgrade to 11n as the need arises. With Meru's AP302 we won't have to deploy one solution now and then take it out later and put in another. The change, when we make it, will be simple and non-disruptive."
Sergio A. Gonzalez, Wyoming's district court systems and network manager, says that Meru was chosen for its virtual-cell technology, which automatically selects a single channel span for use enterprise-wide, layering additional channels only when more capacity is required. According to Meru, this arrangement contrasts with the "micro cell" approach used by most legacy WLANs, which assigns different channels to adjacent network cells, often leading to co-channel interference.
"As people walk from one courtroom to another or from the judge's chambers to the courtroom, we wanted them to have a flawless cell-phone kind of experience, where you hop from one access point to another without hearing a blip or losing the connection," adds Gonzalez. "With Meru's virtual-cell technology, we've had zero outages so far - a first in my experience."
The Meru wireless infrastructure is also expected to support the Judicial Branch's adoption of voice-over-Wi-Fi telephone technology in the future.
Dreher and his staff learned of Meru through Capitol Communications (CapCom), a Cheyenne-based Meru reseller and telecommunications contractor that has done extensive cable and telephone deployment for the state. Jolea Walker, CapCom's operations manager, notes that, "Meru's efficient centralized management approach made it an especially good fit for the Judicial Branch. As the wireless network expands to the state's many outlying sites, it can be easily managed by the networking staff in Cheyenne."