Costs down, quality up: A hospital goes wireless


Building the network and applications

Because the network required reliable indoor cellular and paging access as well as 802.11 wireless LAN access, Vassar Brothers selected a passive distributed system from InnerWireless, which handles all those types of wireless transmissions.

"It mostly consists of coaxial cable maybe an inch in diameter that is wound throughout the facility," Christiano said. "All signals run off the large cable. Off of that, you can have, say, an 802.11 access point or broadcasting antennas for cellular or pagers."

The cable had to be run throughout the 515,000-square-foot hospital and the organization's 130,000-square-foot ambulatory care center. While Ethernet has long been in place, it wasn't always possible to use the same cable runs, Christiano said. Still, the cabling was relatively easy.

"Because it's only one big cable, we were able to wire both facilities in under six months," he said. "The hospital was full of patients, but it was still easy, not much disruption at all." The old Ethernet network remains in place as a backup and for use with specific applications, such as transmission of high-bandwidth medical imaging. Building out the 802.11 portion was simple -- Christiano said Vassar Brothers already is a Cisco shop, and access points from that vendor were installed as needed to ensure proper coverage.