With the increasing need for congregations to acquire reliable WiFi in their buildings, and the challenges presented by multiple additions to the campus, brick walls and complex wiring grids, an example of one church’s solution might be a welcome addition to your database of knowledge.  Here is a detailed account of what Rose City Park did to make their building more accessible to the internet for their members and community partners.

Rose City Park Presbyterian Church’s Wifi Project Summary: How We Did It and You Can Too
By Scott Greer, Communications Committee Member
Rose City Park Presbyterian Church, Portland OR

Simply trying to determine what the scope of the project should entail was a struggle. We knew that we wanted WiFi but did we want it or NEED it throughout the entire building? For instance, we have building partners that provide their own WiFi. Should we save a few bucks by not including their area in the project? Seems like a simple question now, but at the time it was an honest consideration. Also, we already had WiFi in the office area and had extended it to a few other areas in the building, but it was unreliable. Still, we considered building a better system off the existing system which is not always a good idea.

In addition to the WiFi, our office computers were in need of more RAM or outright replacement, our outdated email system needed replacing and our locally shared hard drive (NAS device) was aging out as well. These were all considerations in our initial plan. In the end, we hired individual contractors (literally, two separate people) to upgrade the computers, shared storage, and email at a nominal cost so we could just focus on the WiFi. Again, trying to narrow down the scope of work was difficult yet it is essential to creating a successful bidding process. More on scope later.

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In addition, here is a report from Mt. Scott Park who consulted with Rose City Park and completed a WiFi project of their own.

Read their report

Also, Here are 6 Things to Consider from Mt. Scott Park

1. Ask your congregation if anyone knows about computer hardware or networks (or knows someone who does.) We found that one of our members had a daughter and son-in-law who work with computer networks. This was a huge boost we wouldn’t have known about if we hadn’t asked.
2. Figure out what you really need. Do you have good internet service to your building and just need to boost the wi-fi in the sanctuary? Or do you need faster or more reliable internet service to your building?
3. Have someone manage the project. Someone will need to show vendors around so they can make estimates, schedule workers and make sure someone is there to open the door for them, follow up if the workers don’t show up or the expected work isn’t getting done.
4. We asked for two estimates – one doing just the minimum we needed and another that was more of a wish list. We ended up with something in between which saved us money in the long run because we were able to use one set of permits, inspections, etc. We also took advantage of making longer runs of wire and running it up the outside of walls and across ceilings, hiding it with wire covers rather than feeding it through the walls.
5. If you don’t understand what something is or why you need it, ask. If you still don’t understand, keep asking until you do.
6. It’s like any new project. It was overwhelming until we broke it into pieces and spread the pieces among people with one person managing the overall project.

Their upgrade project manager  shares his recommendation for PTSC (Pacific Telephone Systems and Communications). This is the company Rose City Park recommended to us, and he feels it was part of their success. 

“Working with PTSC was easy and convenient! The team was very open to communication, returning calls, emails, text messages with answers timely and always willing to work around my schedule. When confronted with a problem they would offer friendly advise that would keep cost down and production on target. They even ran in an extra line for an additional camera that we can install in the future at no cost to the church. At first we thought that the cables were going to be out in the open for all to see, but they worked with me to find ways to run the cable without drilling holes and finding ways to hide all cabling in the ceiling and walls.
As far as cost goes; PTSC was cheap in pricing and weren’t trying to make a fortune off this project, but rather pricing the job out in a fair equitable way that made sense for both parties.”
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