Big WLAN on Campus 2009

By Naomi Graychase

November 09, 2009

Jerry Falwell's Liberty University delivers campus-wide wireless multi-channel IPTV over 802.11n; Silicon Valley students get Meru Wi-Fi; Liberty University replaces legacy, creates all-wireless office; Motorola delivers coverage to Illinois campus and airport; Canadian school disctrict deploys 802.11n district-wide; Penola Catholic College (Australia) upgrades WLAN; and more.

Liberty University, the Christian Evangelical university founded by Jerry Falwell, has rolled out multi-channel IP-based video (IPTV) over its campus-wide 802.11n Wi-Fi network.

According to an Aruba Networks press release issued November 3rd, the objective of the program is to provide roaming students on the 5,000-acre campus in Lynchburg, VA with universal access to multi-channel video. Aruba and HaiVision Network Video, a provider of encoding and IP video distribution solutions, deployed the video delivery infrastructure.

 “Wireless delivery of IPTV on campus is the wave of the future because it yields dual benefits,” said Robert Fenstemacher, Aruba’s head of education marketing in Aruba's press release. “It brings content to students wherever and whenever they need it, something not possible with wired infrastructure. And, through network rightsizing, it minimizes the cost of delivering that content. Liberty University has demonstrated that Aruba’s high-performance 802.11n solution and HaiVision’s Video Furnace IP video distribution system support demanding multi-channel wireless video applications. In so doing, they make IPTV over Wi-Fi a viable solution for universities worldwide.”

More details about the deployment are available at the Aruba Networks  Web site, along with a new white paper that discusses its video-related technology, “I Can See Clearly Now: Bringing Wireless Broadband Into Focus.” 

October 16, 2009

Earlier this year, students at San José City College and Evergreen Valley College in California's Silicon Valley were given a new study tool; Meru Networks turned every indoor space on campus into a "wireless hot zone" for Internet access.

Located in the northeastern Santa Clara Valley, the San José/Evergreen Community College District offers "flexible post-secondary academic and occupational programs" to students "of all ages." The district's two campuses serve 20,000 such students in San José and Milpitas, CA. 

Meru worked with integrator partner, AdvanTel Networks on the deployment, which uses approximately 200 Meru AP311 access points, each including one 802.11n radio and one 802.11a/b/g radio (software-upgradeable to 11n); MC1000 controllers provide intelligent RF management for all access points.

The District made the decision last year to deploy a WLAN across all its facilities in order to provide both students and guests with Wi-Fi access. The Meru WLAN provides coverage at both college campuses as well as the district administration offices adjacent to the Evergreen site, while also preventing unauthorized access from parking lots and other public areas on campus.

Tom Onwiler, acting chief technology officer for Information Technology Services and Support, said in a Meru press release that after a thorough vendor evaluation the district selected Meru because "we saw it as the next-generation wireless technology," and because it made economic sense.

October 7, 2009

Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia has upgraded its Wi-Fi network with an Aruba Networks 802.11n solution and AirWave Wireless Management Suite. (Aruba acquired AirWave last year.)

The 38-year old university has a 5000-acre campus which is home to123 buildings totaling 2.9 million square feet of facilities. The WLAN serves a student body that includes 42,000 local and distance-learning students, as well as more than 2,600 faculty and staff.

More than 550 new 802.11n Aruba access points have been deployed across the campus. The university also runs an all-wireless workplace at one remote site.

Planned applications of the wireless network include VideoFurnace multicast IP television.

“Wi-Fi performance and security both improved significantly as a direct result of Aruba’s Adaptive Radio Management (ARM), policy-enforcement firewall (PEF), and Endpoint Compliance System (ECS),” said Bruce Osborne, Liberty University’s Wireless Network Engineer in an Aruba press release. “ARM technology allowed us to field a highly reliable, densely-deployed 802.11n network without any surveys or manual tweaking, saving significant time and expense. Aruba’s PEF cordons off guests from our main network, and a policy acceptance log-in page makes quick work of guest access. The new ECS solution requires just four servers, and students need to log in only once per semester instead of once per session. ECS uses the Microsoft update agent to determine the latest requirements, and unlike our legacy network access control system, 64-bit clients are fully supported. Taken together these new features have simplified life for students, faculty, guests, and the IT staff.”

For more from Aruba on its higher education solutions, click here.

August 28, 2009

Motorola has delivered a campus-wide WLAN at Lewis University in Romeoville, Ill.. Serving over 6,000 students, faculty, and staff, the 802.11n network covers both the 380-acre campus and adjoining university airport.

The new network supports standard voice and data services, while also bringing enhancements to campus safety with video surveillance. The university plans to outfit security cars with cameras and laptops for better situational awareness and communications with the Village of Romeoville police and fire departments. Other new applications will enable automating the control of heat, ventilation, air conditioning, and lighting systems.

“In today’s competitive, quickly evolving educational environment, it is crucial to provide high-speed wireless Internet access in every part of the campus,” said Brother James Gaffney, FSC, president, Lewis University in a Motorola press release.

The network was deployed by Illinois-based Scientel Wireless.

“To meet Lewis University’s requirements and ensure reliable service within a tough radio frequency (RF) environment around the airport and campus, we recommended a purpose-built wireless network from Motorola,” said Nelson Santos, executive vice president for Scientel Wireless. “By leveraging Motorola’s network design tools and field-proven wireless networking technologies, we were able to reduce the previous outdoor infrastructure by 50 percent and the indoor WLAN infrastructure by 30 percent, while extending coverage to new areas across the entire campus. In fact, network utilization has quadrupled since the deployment.”

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Aruba Networks announced earlier this month that the Calgary Board of Education, (CBE) in Calgary, Alberta, Canada  has begun deployment of Aruba’s 802.11n Wi-Fi networks district-wide. In total, 217 elementary, middle, high, and vocational school campuses and more than 100,000 students will be served.

The WLAN will be comprised of 2,700 AP-125 802.11n Access Points, 200 3000 Series Multi-Service Mobility Controllers, and redundant AirWave Wireless Management Suite (AWMS) servers. The new system is being supplied by Aruba partner Bell Canada.

“The new networks are being overlaid on top of existing Aruba 802.11a/b/g networks that have been our wireless workhorses for the past three years,” said Cindy Seibel, Calgary Board of Education’s Director of Information Technology Services in an Aruba press release. “802.11n technology delivers significantly higher throughput with wire-like stability across larger numbers of laptops and other client devices. These benefits pave the way for CBE to aggressively launch high bandwidth electronic learning and video applications starting this year.”

**

Penola Catholic College in Melbourne, Australia has updated its WLAN with Xirrus 802.11n Wi-Fi Arrays.

"Penola Catholic College had a wireless system previous to the installation of Xirrus, but looking at going to a student laptop program we could see that it was not going to be suitable--it would not do what we wanted it to do--it would not handle a one-to-one student laptop program," said Anthony Austin, IT Manager at Penola Catholic College in a Xirrus press release Wednesday. 

August 14, 2009

Students arriving at New York's Farmingdale State College this fall will have access to an upgraded Wi-Fi network in their dormitories, library, and classrooms. The campus-wide 802.11n draft 2.0 wireless LAN from Meru Networks includes 200 access points installed across roughly 20 buildings on the 380-acre Long Island campus.

The new network replaces a five-year-old legacy a/b/g network, also from Meru.

"We upgraded to Meru's 11n technology for both broader coverage and higher throughput. For several years, about half of our 6,500 students have been bringing a laptop computer or some other mobile device to campus. Not only are they doing more rich Web browsing and viewing streaming videos, they're also doing online research and coursework--in fact, every course now has at least an online presence, and some are conducted completely online. And with the frequent high-density use of laptops in classrooms, it would be impractical and costly to wire every desktop on campus," said Jeff Borah, Farmingdale State College's assistant systems manager in a Meru press release.

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August 4, 2009

The Raytown C-2 School District in Missouri has deployed Aruba’s 802.11n Wi-Fi network across its elementary, middle, and high schools, as well as at its vocational school campus and support buildings. The Aruba network supports more than 1,500 laptop computers housed on rolling computer carts that are wheeled into classrooms as needed in the 22 buildings.

“Our legacy wireless solution was not meeting expectations to the point that certain areas of buildings were not reliable in a best case scenario, and completely unusable in the worst,” said Justin Watermann, the district’s technology coordinator in an Aruba press release. “One of our buildings is directly illuminated by a 25-foot parabolic radio antenna that caused tremendous instability in the [legacy] single-channel system. Those problems ended when we switched to an Aruba wireless LAN. Aruba’s Adaptive Radio Management (ARM) was able to adjust channels and power levels to mitigate the interference, and we’ve had trouble-free RF operation ever since. The Aruba network has exceeded my best expectations in every regard, and everyone from the students up to the principal can now work without constant network interruptions and disconnections.”

July 31, 2009

Xirrus has been busy with campus deployments in 2009. It has announced installations of networks all over the country, including Arizona (Creighton School District), Colorado (Poudre School District), Texas (Ballinger Independent School District), and in California (Marymount High School).

International WLAN education deployments this year have included Canada (Toronto Montessori School and Toronto Montessori Institute), Russia (Tambov State University, see below), Madrid (see below), and Australia (see below).

For more on Xirrus's many school-based deployments, click here.

July 14, 2009

San Francisco-based innovator, Meraki, has been selected by ten higher education institutions throughout North America to provide Wi-Fi to faculty, staff, and students.

The ten institutions, which serve more than 43,000 students and cover nearly 600 acres in total include the following: Alliant International University’s six campuses (California), Mount Olive College (North Carolina), Warner Pacific College (Oregon), Oklahoma Panhandle State University (Oklahoma), Nash Community College (North Carolina), Edgecombe Community College (North Carolina), James Sprunt Community College (North Carolina), Wilson Community College (North Carolina), College of the Redwoods (California), and Lake Tahoe Community College (California).

“On any college campus today you find students registering for classes on their laptops and iPhones, downloading and watching videos from YouTube and sharing photos with friends. Teachers are using online portals to post assignments, podcasts and videos to accompany their classroom curriculum. High performance and reliable wireless Internet is an expectation on these campuses, not just a nice-to-have,” said Meraki CEO and co-founder Sanjit Biswas in a press release July 6th. “With Meraki these campuses can create extremely reliable networks that can handle the high bandwidth demands of these schools without breaking the bank.”

For on Meraki, read:

June 15, 2009

In another Australian deployment, Xirrus has installed its 802.11a/b/g/n Wi-Fi Arrays at Galen Catholic College in Wangaratta, Victoria. The school located three hours north of Melbourne, Australia, serves nearly 900 year 7 to 12 students, both boys and girls, and has a history dating back to 1898 from the Brigidine & Marist religious orders.

The school, which is comprised of 17 buildings with over 63,000 square feet of educational space, deployed its new Wi-Fi network as part of a 1:1 computer initiative.

“Recently, we upgraded our 802.11a/b/g Wi-Fi Arrays to 802.11n—the process was quick and easy,” said Dave Seiter, Principal at Galen Catholic College in a Xirrus press release. “Xirrus made it possible to replace all our desktop computers—we now have hundreds of Wi-Fi-enabled HP and Apple computing devices wirelessly running applications like ClickView and Microsoft Sharepoint across our campus. Everyone at Galen is extremely impressed with the pervasive coverage and wired-like speeds experience from the Xirrus products—equated to higher productivity and education time for all.”

June 1, 2009

The University of Queensland, one of Australia's premier learning and research institutions, has announced that it is working with Cisco to become Australia's "most connected tertiary institution."

Step one: Deploy what Cisco says is the largest 802.11n wireless network in the world.

Step two: Deploy the largest tertiary Cisco TelePresence network in the Asia Pacific region to facilitate international and cross-campus collaboration. TelePresence allows for live face-to-face video interaction of large groups over the WLAN.

Step three: Commence learning down under the 21st century way.

The new 802.11n network at the university will include the 7 millionth Cisco wireless AP deployed worldwide.

The University of Queensland serves approximately 38,000 students from more than 110 countries. 15,000 members of staff work across 774 buildings on four major campuses, with another 45 sites throughout Queensland, including two islands in the Great Barrier Reef region of Queensland. The Cisco deployment will seek to provide a seamless connected campus experience across all campuses.

"This significant network upgrade will help the University of Queensland enable our vision of a connected campus environment, filled with mobile students and teachers communicating and collaborating at anytime from wherever they happen to be. The flexibility this provides means busy students will be able to more easily keep up with university demands whilst staff will have a world-class network to support their teaching, research and administrative endeavours. The University of Queensland is extremely proud to be leading the way, internationally, with this substantial technology investment," said Nick Tate, director of information technology services and AusCERT at the University of Queensland in a statement Wednesday.

The deployment will feature four Cisco TelePresence System 500 units and two Cisco TelePresence System 3200 units. Cisco says it is the first deployment of its kind for education and learning in Australia/New Zealand. The Cisco TelePresence System 500 seats two participants for virtual face-to-face meetings, and the Cisco TelePresence System 3200 seats up to 18 participants in the room.

May 27, 2009

The Danville, Indiana,Community Schools deployed a new Wi-Fi network earlier this year that will enable students to participate in online class activities, conduct research, complete assignments, and take assessments from anywhere in the building. Teachers will be able to use the network to create lesson plans, review electronic records and perform daily classroom management tasks, such as taking attendance. School visitors will also have wireless guest access to the WLAN.

Danville Community School Corporation is located in central Hendricks County, just west of the Indianapolis metropolitan area in central Indiana and includes the town of Danville, and Center and Marion Townships. It operates two elementary schools, a middleschool, a high school, and the Opportunity House, an alternative school, which serve roughly 3,000 students, teachers, and staff in a total of nine buildings.

The Meru WLAN was installed first in the district's newly-built Danville Community Middle School in January. The district plans to extend the network to the district's high school, elementary schools, alternative school, and administrative buildings, once adequate funds have been secured. The unified, centrally controlled wireless system from Meru will replace existing wireless APs that operate independently and provide isolated pockets of wireless coverage in several school district buildings.

April 30, 2009

The University of Tokyo is upgrading its Wi-Fi network at the School of Science on its main Hongo Bunkyo-ku campus. The university has opted for Aruba's adaptive 802.11n wireless solution. The completed system will include Aruba's MMC-6000 Mobility Controller, 300 access points, and the AirWave Wireless Management Suite.

Established in 1877, the University of Tokyo has more than 4,000 faculty and staff, and a total enrollment of approximately 29,000 students.

"Over the past year 802.11n technology has become a de facto standard, and the time was right for the university to move to this high speed technology," said Junji Tamatsukuri, University of Tokyo's IT System team leader in a statement. "The School of Science is an ideal deployment because it encompasses multiple buildings, such as Koshiba Hall--named after Nobel laureate Dr. Masatoshi Koshiba--that are challenging RF environments for which 802.11n is well-suited."

April 27, 2009

Tambov State University (TSU) located in the Central Chernozyom Region of Russia has installed an 802.11a/b/g WLAN. TSU chose Xirrus's Wi-Fi Array system to provide Wi-Fi to its more than 10,000 graduate and postgraduate students and faculty for accessing internal file servers for e-learning and for Internet access.

The second largest university in the Central Chernozyom Region of Russia, TSU includes 30 research centers and laboratories, ten auditoriums, and several multi-story dormitories..

“With thousands of users spread across our campus and many hundreds congregating in large auditoriums, we needed a better way at connecting students to our internal servers—traditional access points failed to deliver the needed bandwidth and throughput,” said Sergey Yuchachev, Head of Technology faculty at TSU in a statement.

For more on wireless deployments in Russia, read "Investors Bank on WiMAX in Eastern Europe."

April 13, 2009

Schiller International University (an American University) in Madrid, Spain (Madrid campus) has deployed a Xirrus 802.11a/b/g Wi-Fi LAN. According to Xirrus, the Madrid campus, one of several European campuses of Schiller, chose Xirrus because "their Wi-Fi Arrays proved to be the only Wi-Fi solution capable of delivering the coverage, user density, and bandwidth needed for student e-learning applications."

Schiller International University educates a student body that represents more than 40 countries. It offers undergraduate and graduate degree programs, including International Business, International Economics, International Relations and Diplomacy, General Studies, and an MBA in International Business.

Vasil Hadzi Jordanov, Global IT Operation Director at Schiller, Madrid, said. “To better serve our students and professors, we sought to install a school-wide Wi-Fi network. We looked at several Wi-Fi vendors, searching for a solution that could provide a pervasive and reliable connection and was easy to install and manage...By going with the Xirrus Wi-Fi Array solution, the Madrid campus was able to increase the learning of its students while saving time and money over cumbersome controller-based Wi-Fi designs. Not only did we deliver a high-performance network with more bandwidth and throughput than any other architecture, but we did it with far few devices, cable drops, and switch ports than the competition."

April 9, 2009

Nicolaus Copernicus University, in Torun, Poland, has deployed a wireless network from Meru Networks for its students and faculty.

Known in Polish as, "Uniwersytet Miko_ajaKopernika (UMK)," the university replaced its older WLAN made up of roughly 90 stand-alone APs, with a centrally-controlled network.

"The university's network has around 400 users a day and more than 2,000 regular users a month," said Tomasz Wolniewicz, director of information and communications technology at UMK. "We needed a network that would give access to that number of students without breaks in service."

The legacy network was begun in 2005 to cover open access areas, such as libraries, lecture halls, and cafeterias. With laptop use rapidly growing and demand for wireless access skyrocketing along with it, demands on the WLAN were heavy. 

"We can get up to 40 new users every day," said Wolniewicz. "The old network was not able to cope. Users were noticing breaks in service of up to several seconds when they would roam the campus and their laptops switched between one access point and another."

According to Meru, its "virtualized WLAN architecture" uses a single channel for access points enterprise-wide, and a dedicated "virtual port" is assigned to each client device "to maximize performance, reliability, and enterprise control over wireless resources."  Additional channels can be layered as more capacity is required. 

UMK's new 802.11a/b/g WLAN covers some academic departments, in addition to the library and administration buildings. It consists of 65 Meru AP200 access points and an MC3000 controller. It was the first in Poland to connect to the international secure Eduroam system, which provides user authentication for wireless LANs in educational establishments across Europe.

April 6, 2009

This is not your father’s grade school. Let’s face it—this probably isn’t even your kid’s grade school. Deep pockets and a forward-looking IT staff have made the Norwood School in Bethesda, MD a place where blackboards—and even white boards--are as obsolete as rotary dial phones. Instead, this well-funded, private K-8 school uses an 802.11n wireless LAN to connect every student to his or her own laptop or tablet PC, and every classroom to its own networked wireless projector.

The school, which serves over 500 kids and roughly 110 faculty and staff, has been prioritizing technology and mobility for more than a decade.

“Norwood has had a one-to-one laptop program for ten years,” says David Rossell, Administrator of Network Services and Planning for Norwood Schools. “One-to-one means there’s a laptop computer or tablet in the hands of each child. The idea is that by putting that kind of powerful tool in kids’ hands, what it does is it allows for more differentiated learning and more flexibility with education, and it is a really great all-around educational tool to work with.”

Imagining a high-tech learning environment and creating one that meets your standards are two very different things, though, as Rossell discovered. For the rest of the story, click here.

March 17, 2009

The historic 156-year-old campus of the Institute of Notre Dame (IND), an all-girls private high school in Baltimore, Maryland, now has a carefully installed WLAN. 

Trapeze Networks, a Belden Brand, specializes in enterprise wireless LAN equipment and management software, deployed the Wi-Fi network, along with Maryland-based Jaguar Technology. The architecture of the campuses buildings presented a special challenge to the team. One building, for instance, was constructed with 16-inch-thick plaster-and-brick walls. The installation, which was able to preserve the integrity of the historic facilities, took only two weeks to complete and includes 40 access points that cover more than 175,000 square feet of building, plus additional outdoor areas with Wi-Fi.

“We are now able to integrate technology across the curriculum, creating a learning environment that is more individualized and tailored to each student’s needs,” said Fred Germano, director of technology at Institute of Notre Dame.  “Our students’ education is more engaging and a more authentic representation of the real world of college, career and life.” 

March 12, 2009

New Hampshire's Hollis Brookline High School has deployed a WLAN using U4EA’s Fusion 300 Wireless LAN Controller and Fusion 50 Access Points.

The school has transitioned from a fixed computer lab to a more flexible alternative, which includes mobile computing carts in classrooms. The U4EA solution scales to support up to 100 student laptops and several faculty laptops and PDAs.

U4EA's Fusion 300 is optimized for small-to-medium-sized business deployments, which, according to a company spokesperson, includes school campus environments.

“Historically, SMBs looking to deploy Wi-Fi have either had to choose from consumer APs, which lack business features such as RADIUS authentication, guest access, and intrusion detection, or feature-full, but expensive and difficult-to-configure enterprise-class APs,” said Chris Richardson, senior director, product management at U4EA. “U4EA’s Fusion 300 offers Hollis Brookline High and other SMBs the enterprise security and management features they need, without the pain and complexity of enterprise configuration, all at an extremely competitive price.”

March 6, 2009

Colorado State University (CSU) announced Tuesday the deployment of an upgraded 802.11a/b/g/n Wi-Fi network at its in Fort Collins, CO campus.

CSU is a public institution, which offers 150 programs of study in eight colleges. Wi-Fi Arrays from Xirrus are being deployed at the newly constructed Computer Science Building, a four-story, 45,000 square foot facility, comprised of classrooms, lecture halls, three student labs, faculty offices and large meeting areas, as well as at the Morgan Library, the Andrew G. Clark Building, and the Academic Learning Center. Plans for adding Wi-Fi to the Academic Instruction Building are also in the works. The WLAN will serve more than 25,000 students and 1,400 faculty members.

“We have had a Wi-Fi network with hundreds of APs for some time, but some of these traditional APs were being saturated as more and more students brought in Wi-Fi-enabled laptops, PDAs, and phones,” said Greg Redder, interim Director of Networking at CSU in a Xirrus press release. “Throwing more and more APs at the problem in some of these facilities was ineffective and costly, so we looked around for an alternative wireless solution—something that could support dozens to hundreds of concurrent users and supply enough bandwidth to meet current and future needs.”

March 2, 2009

Students at Gorham High School in Gorham, ME have a new high-speed IEEE 802.11n draft 2.0 wireless LAN. The 850-student high school in Southern Maine is the first school in the district to receive its own Wi-Fi network. Meru Networks, which deployed the WLAN, says the Gorham School District plans to extend the network to the district's three elementary schools over the next several years.

As part of its Maine Learning Technology Initiative (MLTI), the state of Maine provides all seventh and eigth graders with Wi-Fi-enabled Apple laptops and training (for teachers, students, and parents).

Meru says the school's WLAN supports activities ranging from basic student Internet access for research, communication, and learning, to administrative tasks, such as student assessments, scheduling, and attendance using Gorham's Student Information System. The network covers both indoor and some outdoor locations, including the athletic fields. Two distinct wireless networks have been deployed: one for students and faculty with school-owned computers, the other for guests and those who bring their own laptops to school.

Dennis Crowe, who joined Gorham Schools in early 2008 as director of technology, said, "I was flabbergasted that, with every high school teacher having a laptop and plans calling for every student to have one, there was no wireless access in the high school. Wireless became priority number one. We needed a system with sufficient capacity so that when we have one laptop per student, there won't be a bottleneck. And that system had to be rich enough to support a move to wireless IP telephony in the future."

Gorham chose an 802.11n network because "we want our APs to be with us for at least several years, and the new Mac laptops we're getting in all support the 11n standard," said Crowe. Meru says all of its 802.11n APs are backward-compatible with the 11a/b/g standards.

"Because Apple is so big in the MLTI program, most schools have used Apple 'fat' APs, each of which has to be updated locally and individually. With a centrally controlled wireless system, you can update all the APs at once from a remote location," said Crowe. "If you bring a cart full of laptops into a room and one AP starts to get overloaded, Meru's system automatically moves you to another AP and you don't notice any interruption or disconnection... This approach will be a lot more stable if we decide to go with wireless IP phones later for our more mobile personnel, such as administrators and physical education teachers."

The school system currently uses an Avaya wired IP telephony system. 

February 20, 2009

New York Fashion week wraps up today, but for students at the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT), all the fun of cutting-edge fashion isn't entirely over. Earlier this month, the Manhattan-based school of fashion-related design, which even offers certificate programs in fashions designed for pets, began deploying an 802.11n draft 2.0 Wi-Fi LAN throughout its student dormitories.

The new 802.11n WLAN expands and upgrades the existing five-year-old Meru Networks wireless network, which served the academic buildings at FIT's West 27th Street campus in Chelsea. 

FIT, which is a State University of NewYork (SUNY) school, has designed a plan to complete the upgrade by year end. Once complete, the Wi-Fi network will deliver 802.11n performance to the school's 10,000 students campus-wide.

In addition to making the school competitive in a market where students expect Wi-Fi, and keeping the school ahead of the curve technologically, the upgrade also serves some financial goals, a priority for colleges and universities with shrinking endowments and state funds, and an increasingly pinched base of potential students (and tuition-paying parents).

"We're looking to wireless as the network infrastructure of the future," said Gregg Chottiner, FIT's vice president of information technology and chief information officer. "As parts of our wired infrastructure reach end-of-life, rather than replacing them, we will use wireless as our primary vehicle for data access, and even voice and video. This will save on capital costs, since we won't have to keep expanding our switching closets and installing all the associated cabling."

The students at FIT, like architecture, engineering, or students studying other areas of design, also have a heightened academic need for broadband--it's not just for social, communication, or entertainment purposes. FIT often requires its students to work with large file formats, such as AutoCAD and Adobe CS4, that include large numbers of high-resolution images. 

"The kids access these resources in their classrooms and labs, and then bring the work back to the dorms on their laptops," said Chottiner. "802.11n provides all the bandwidth they need for these applications."

According to Chottiner the Meru WLAN is also compatible with the Bradford Networks NAC (network access control) product the school uses for secure user authentication on its network.

The FIT WLAN incorporates: the Meru AP311 access point (one 802.11n radio and one 802.11a/b/g radio software-upgradeable to 11n); the AP302, with two 802.11a/b/g radios (both software-upgradeable to11n); the AP208, with two 802.11a/b/g radios; and the MC3000 controller

February 2, 2009

Wi-Fi is spreading like wildfire across the nation's college--and even grammar, middle, and high school--campuses. In this column, we highlight recent deployments from a variety of vendors all across the country--and sometimes around the world.

Loyola University students returned to their dorms and classrooms in New Orleans last fall to discover they'd been equipped with high-speed wireless Internet access.

The new 802.11n draft 2.0 WLAN was deployed by Meru Networks over sections of Loyola's main campus, in the historic Audubon Park district. Wireless coverage now reaches 13 facilities, including residence halls, the Danna Student Center, the Monroe Library, academic and administrative buildings, and several outdoor gathering areas. 

Several of the University's teaching classrooms and all of its lecture halls are relying exclusively on the 802.11n network for connectivity. 

The MeruWLAN provides rogue detection capabilities to prevent unauthorized users from accessing the network. Joseph Locascio, director of computer and network services for Loyola, said the network replaced a legacy WLAN from Cisco Systems. "Most students nowadays are coming to campus with wireless laptops," Locascio said in a Meru press release in January.  "Our research showed that three-quarters of the new laptops on the market have 11n capability. In the few months since students returned toschool, we've seen a higher volume of traffic going through the access points than ever before, so we know users are taking full advantage of the 11n support. And since the Meru network is fully compatible with the 11a/b/g standards, as well, all types of clients are supported."

60 Meru AP320 dual-radio 802.11a/b/g/n access points had been installed as of January 12. Approximately 40 more are scheduled to will be in place by the end of the school year. Two MC3150 controllers have also been deployed.

University New Orleans is a Jesuit university, which opened in 1904 and chartered in 1912. Today it serves 4,585 students, including 2,685 undergraduates and 1,900 graduate students in the schools of social sciences, law, business, music and fine arts, and humanities and natural sciences. The university is open to students of all faiths. 

January 6, 2009

Cedarville University in southwestern Ohio is upgrading its existing two-year-old 802.11a/b/g WLAN to 802.11n. The university's network, which serves roughly 3,000 students plus faculty and staff, includes 500 APs.

Cederville opted for Meru Networks' virtual cell wireless technology. The new network will be designed to support future network growth and new applications, such as wireless telephony (VoWi-Fi) for school security, facilities management, and other applications.

The upgrade began last fall and is expected to take several years. As of November, approximately 20% of the university's wireless access points had been successfully upgraded to 802.11n, including the APs in the newly built Center for Biblical and Theological Studies, which houses multimedia and computer labs, lecture halls, classrooms, and offices. All told, the Cederville WLAN covers 30 buildings spread across the 400-acre campus.

"With most of our students bringing their own laptops to campus nowadays, there's a built-in expectation that they'll have wireless everywhere--students hardly know anymore what it means to plug a laptop into a port in their rooms," said Nathan P. Hay, network engineer for Cedarville's Computer Services department.  "In the academic buildings, wireless helps us in addressing the demand for temporary high-density setups. If a special event at the student center requires short-term use of 15 computers, it's a lot less work and time providing laptops connected to the wireless LAN than PCs on a traditional wired LAN."

For its 802.11n network, the university uses Meru's AP320 access points, which offer dual radios and backward compatibility with the 802.11a/b/g network. 

"About 30 percent of students' client devices now operate in the 5-GHz range," Hay said. "The rest are still in the 2.4-GHz range, and we didn't want to abandon them prematurely. With the AP320, we can serve everyone by dedicating one radio to 802.11a/n at 5 GHz, and the other to 802.11b/g/n at 2.4 GHz." 

Cedarville U. has also upgraded to Meru's modular MC5000 controller, which supports up to 1,000 APs.

For more on campus deployments, read "College Students Say, 'I Want My Wi-Fi'," "The Wi-Fi Planet Guide to Hotspot Safety for College Students," and "Ask the Wi-Fi Guru, Episode IX."



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