Road Ranger, an Illinois-based chain of travel centers, has been serving motorists and travelers throughout the mid-continental United States since its founding in 1984. With 45 travel centers, and expanding aggressively, along multiple interstates between Texas and the Midwest—and a presence in Illinois, Iowa, Indiana, Missouri, Texas, Arkansas, and Wisconsin—Road Ranger is dedicated to providing the ultimate experience in customer convenience and innovation.
Network technology has changed dramatically over the last 35 years. Like most successful chains, as Road Ranger grew and evolved, they accumulated a variety of network vendors along the way. To gain clarity and accountability, they sought to consolidate network services under a single managed services provider. Key to the selection criteria was the ability to deliver next-generation technology, 24/7 monitoring, and nationwide service and support. All with the ultimate goal of delivering the robust and reliable connectivity their customers demand.
Road Ranger had been using several vendors to manage their various technologies—from wide and local area networking to Internet access, managed firewall to guest Wi-Fi, and more—with a small internal team handling the back-end switching. With advances in broadband technology, emerging inefficiencies in legacy connectivity options, and a growing strain on its internal team, the client recognized the need to consolidate its technologies under a single vendor. More specifically, they wanted to bring their multiple connections under one SD-WAN architecture, upgrade their core hardware with next-generation firewalls and new switching, integrate advanced technology, and continue to offer superior guest Wi-Fi—all managed by one resource with a single point of contact.
SD-WAN (software-defined wide area networking), as its name implies, uses software to control the management and connectivity between data centers, cloud and remote branch instances. Road Ranger knew that by switching to SD-WAN, they’d be able to enhance network robustness and flexibility, simplify management, increase security, and reduce costs.
The network upgrade was integral to Road Ranger’s continuous efforts to provide the highest quality customer experience, noted Road Ranger IT Operations Manager, Stephen Kusler. “Our legacy network was based on older communications technologies and protocols and couldn’t be leveraged for the benefits of SD-WAN. As we looked to modernize our store technology infrastructure, it became evident starting with the network foundation was going to be key. Perhaps most importantly, as we looked to what the future of the customer transaction experience will look like at Road Ranger stores, a reimagined store network platform was going to be key.”
Kusler’s goals included:
- Providing a flexible customer WiFi amenity – paid WiFi, WiFi redemptions with Ranger Rewards, and robust free basic Wi-Fi
- The ability to scale company size and location count without the exponentially increasing IT headcount to manage the network and infrastructure
- Flexibility to scale bandwidth for future technologies – AR, VR, the metaverse, and more intelligent vehicles.
For nearly a decade, Road Ranger had relied on Tulsa-based manages services provider SageNet to provide managed guest Wi-Fi services across its retail locations. At the time, a national carrier was providing Road Ranger’s primary Internet connectivity and firewall services. They consolidated their connectivity requirements under SageNet due to their vast expertise in C-store/travel centers market, and proven track record of providing personalized service and trusted IT support and services.
SageNet delivered a customized solution that included infrastructure design, redundant Internet connectivity, deployment services, and end-to-end management. More specifically, they delivered high-availability primary, secondary, and tertiary connections powered by Cisco Meraki. SageNet managed the complete migration from the legacy platform to Cisco’s cloud-based solution, which included an upgrade of Road Ranger’s legacy copper circuits to fiber designed to deliver speed-of-light connectivity.
With the Cisco platform supporting enterprise-grade Wi-Fi through one access point, SageNet was able to deploy numerous coverage broadcasts throughout Road Ranger’s travel center—from wireless back-of-house devices and systems to guest-facing Wi-Fi services—in even the most remote locations. The cloud platform’s IoT sensor technology allows the travel center company to monitor and analyze store traffic across each retail location to support more informed staffing and sales decisions.
Post-deployment, SageNet performs 24/7 monitoring and management services with proactive alerts to ensure Road Ranger’s network continues to run flawlessly and without interruption.
Today, Road Ranger enjoys primary, secondary, and tertiary connections for complete uptime and high-availability connectivity, with peace of mind that their network is being proactively monitored by a team of experts.
By moving to one consolidated vendor, Road Ranger benefits from significant cost savings, more streamlined and secure communications, and reduced strain on its internal IT team. Most importantly, the enhanced network helps Road Ranger deliver on its mission to provide families and professional drivers highway hospitality, with top tier fuel, quality food, and a superior customer experience.
- Complete uptime and high-availability connectivity, with peace of mind that their network is being proactively monitored by a team of experts
- Equipped to handle higher retail traffic with switching that connects multiple devices to support seamless network service
- Significant cost savings, more streamlined and secure communications, and reduced strain on its internal IT team with one consolidated vendor, SageNet
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Place-based signage refers to the use of digital displays to communicate information or advertising messages in specific physical locations.
Because they are wirelessly linked to the data network, ESLs create the potential for a wide range of operational benefits through increased in-store digitalization.