Big WLAN on Campus 2008

Big WLAN on Campus 2008

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Written By Eric Sandler

By Naomi Graychase

December 12, 2008

Brazilian military school gets Aruba WLAN; district-wide Wi-Fi in Marin County, CA; Middle schools in the southwest get 802.11n; American college students love their Wi-Fi; and more.

The Escola de Aperfeiçoamento de Oficiais (EsAO) Brazilian Army School in Rio de Janeiro now has Wi-Fi access throughout its 46 acre-campus, including at housing complexes.

“What most impressed us about this project was the speed with which the deployment was accomplished, and the reliability of the finished network,” said Lt. Colonel Antonio Guelfi of the Roberto Trompowsky Foundation, manager of Army schools throughout the country in an Aruba press release. “Aruba’s Adaptive Radio Management and mesh technology made short work of the physical installation, while centralized management and the integrated firewall simplified system commissioning. Once commissioned the network met all expectations and proved more flexible than any other solution we considered. For example, the Aruba firewall allows us to precisely tailor network access policies to the needs of faculty, students, and guests. Those policies follow the users wherever they roam and deliver a very consistent user experience.”

For more, click here.

November 12, 2008

The Tamalpais Union High School District in Marin County, California, just north of San Francisco, has deployed a Wi-Fi network across all of its campuses. The Aruba Networks WLAN encompasses all classrooms and common areas, and is managed by the AirWave Wireless Management Suite.  The AirWave suite centrally manages and monitors both the secure internal network and the guest network used by non-District users.

According to an Aruba press release, “The district wanted to provide ubiquitous and secure wireless to merge technology into the day-to-day classroom experience and eliminate stand-alone computer labs.”

“Offering wireless access in every classroom affords teachers with the opportunity to use laptops and wireless devices in novel ways,” said Joel Hames, the Tamalpais Union High School District’s Senior Director of Information Technology in an Aruba Networks press release Tuesday.  “To accomplish this we needed to provide ubiquitous wireless access with integrated security to preserve network integrity and privacy. Our previous wireless efforts were ad-hoc, at best, with staff members bringing wireless access points as needed to solve specific access issues. We selected Aruba because the platform offered a comprehensive suite of tools for managing and maintaining our wireless network. The management user interface, myriad options for access control and authentication, and the fantastic references all convinced us that Aruba’s solution was far superior to the others we were considering.”

The district’s installation includes three MMC-6000 Multi-Service Mobility Controllers, 175 access points, and the AirWave Management Platform. All classrooms and common areas have Wi-Fi access.November 7, 2008

New Mexico’s Farmington Municipal School District has installed 802.11n WLANs in four middle schools as part of its “Learning Initiative,” which provides one Mac laptop per student to the middle schoolers. 

Plans are in the works for extending the deployment, which uses Meru equipment, district-wide. Eventually, Farmington Municipal Schools plans to expand its wireless network to cover administrative offices, the district’s three high schools, and ten elementary schools. Once completely deployed, up to 300 access points will be up and running.

The schools’ new WLAN was first put to the test this summer when the district handed out the first 2,000 laptops to sixth, seventh, and eighth graders. During the handout and registration process, up to 75 of the laptops were connected to the Meru network at any given time in a large common area.

“Without the Meru network we would not have been able to effectively distribute large numbers of laptops so quickly,” said Charles Thacker, chief technology officerf or Farmington Municipal Schools. “Users were joining and leaving the network throughout the four-hour distribution process, and we had no connectivity issues at all.”

The Farmington Municipal School District is located in the “Four Corners” region of the American southwest. It educates  more than 10,000 students and employs 1,200 staff members.

Octoer 27, 2008

MTV is fine, but for the Google Generation, the more fervent refrain is, “I want my Wi-Fi.” In a poll conducted earlier this year, the Wi-Fi Alliance (WFA) learned that nine out of ten college students consider Wi-Fi to be as essential to their academic lives as classrooms and computers.

Wi-Fi, says the WFA, is an integral part of today’s college experience—and they’re not just saying that because it’s their job to promote WLANs. In a survey conducted in September by the Wi-Fi Alliance and Wakefield Research, nine out of ten college students in the United States said Wi-Fi access is as essential to their educations as classrooms and computers. Convictions are so strong, in fact, that nearly three in five said they wouldn’t even consider going to a college that doesn’t have free Wi-Fi.

“Wi-Fi has become a universal expectation among college students, and their attitudes towards technology are a good indicator of broad changes underway in how we as a society learn, work, and communicate,” said Edgar Figueroa, executive director of the Wi-Fi Alliance, in a press release October 6. “Young adults expect access to information with unprecedented immediacy. Whether they are chasing a detail that will help them look smart in the middle of a class discussion, or are looking up a new friend on the Internet within minutes of meeting them—Wi-Fi enables the flexibility and freedom to access information from just about anywhere.” For the full story, click here.


Nanjing University, a top school in China serving over 15,000 students and faculty, has deployed a campus-wide Motorola WLAN spanning 4.5 million square feet.

The Enterprise Mobility business of Motorola deployed the campus-wide wireless LAN to enable multimedia Internet-based teaching, automatic academic office management, Internet access, distance learning, and other services that rely on wireless broadband access.

Nanjing University of Posts and Telecommunications is one of the few universities in China to provide complete wireless LAN coverage to every building in addition to the campus’ outdoor spaces.

“With its high performance and scalability, Motorola’s wireless LAN solutions will provide the university with reliable, end-to-end coverage, security, and manageability both outdoors and inside academic and administrative buildings, hostels, and canteens,” said Jian-Zheng Xu, campus network manager, Nanjing University of Posts and Telecommunications in a Motorola press release. “Motorola is helping us realize our goal of managing and teaching through the WLAN network to provide convenience to the lecturers and enhance the students’ learning experiences.”

The university’s WLAN required 600 APs, including Motorola AP300 wireless access ports and mesh-enabled AP-5131 access points. The campus also utilizes Motorola’s scalable RFS7000 RF switch, which features the Wi-NG architecture and the RF Management suite. [Read our review of the RF Management Suite here.]

According to Motorola, the system can provide backup data for two campuses, so that the WLAN coverage will not be affected if either the wireless network or wired network is disrupted. It includes support for Wi-Fi protected access (WPA) and WPA2, as well as a wireless intrusion protection system (WIPS). For more on international deployments, read “Around the World in 80 Nodes.”

September 16, 2008

Saint Joseph’s University has begun deploying a Wi-Fi network across its Philadelphia campus as part of a multi-year effort to bring Wi-Fi coverage to every building on campus.

This new phase of the Saint Joseph’s wireless project began with the installation of Meru access points in the university’s freshman dorms and the Campion Student Center earlier this year and continued with upper-class dormitories this summer. 

When students returned to school earlier this month, 380 Meru APs were providing coverage to 25 buildings, including 20 residences, two dining halls, a student commons, an administrative facility, and one academic building.  Upon completion, the project should include roughly 800 Meru APs.

“The competition for funding dollars is always intense, so it’s critical to make the best possible use of those dollars,” said Joseph F. Petragnani, assistant vice president for information technology at Saint Joseph’s in a Meru press release in August. “We found Meru’s Air TrafficControl technology to provide the most cost-effective, efficient wireless solution–and the easiest to manage.”


Earlier this year, Xirrus began deployment of a high-performance Wi-Fi network across Eastern Sierra Unified School District (ESUSD) in Northern California. The ESUSD deployment will cover all seven schools and the administration facilities spread across eight towns.

Located between the rugged eastern escarpment of the Sierra Nevada and the White Mountains to the east, the ESUSD serves students from Topaz, Coleville, Walker, Bridgeport, Lee Vining, June Lake, Benton, and Chalfant. Self-described as “extremely rural,” ESUSD “strives to bring top notch staff, technology, and inspiring workshops, assemblies, and seminars to its students.” Students of ESUSD have participated in opera performances, science festivals, techno-music productions, hip hop happenings, and Meet the Masters art classes.

“In addition to offering wireless access throughout each school, the Xirrus Wi-Fi network will also provide the students of the rural communities with Wi-Fi Internet access,” said Bob Hurst, director of IT at ESUSD in a Xirrus press release. “Because our Wi-Fi network will be the primary connection for all of our students, we needed a reliable network that would give us the flexible security to manage student access times. We chose Xirrus because it gave us the greatest coverage, bandwidth, and student capacity with far fewer devices to deploy and manage–zero frustrations.”

September 8, 2008

The University of Macau in Taipa, Macau has deployed a campus-wide Aruba adaptive WLAN.

Founded in 1981, the urban campus covers 572,000 square feet and serves more than 6,000 students and 800 faculty and staff. 

According to a September 2nd Aruba press release, “The University of Macau sought to replace its legacy Wi-Fi network comprised of autonomous access points in favor of a centrally managed wireless LAN with automatic load balancing, a role-based firewall for security, and fault-tolerant wireless controllers. Aruba was awarded the project based on its management system, integrated firewall, Adaptive Radio Management (ARM) technology, and N+1 controller redundancy.”

Aruba’s ARM technology supports Intel Centrino, Apple Macintosh, and a wide range of wireless PC clients.

“Universities include a diverse range of constituencies–faculty, staff, students, visitors–and Aruba’s highly flexible architecture is very well-suited to addressing such a wide range of users,” said Denny Lo, Aruba’s Territory Manager in a press release.  “Our solutions extend far beyond adaptive wireless LANs and integrate multi-vendor network management, intrusion detection and prevention, endpoint compliance, access control, fixed mobile convergence, and a host of other technologies into a unified mobility solution. We leveraged this wide range of capabilities to address diverse needs of University of Macau, and look forward to providing similar solutions to other universities in the region.”

August 28, 2008

Xirrus is deploying a high-performance Wi-Fi network for all of the 55 schools in the Boulder Valley School District (BVSD) in Colorado. BVSD includedes 29 elementary schools, ten middle schools, ten high schools, and six multi-level schools that are supported by 4,200 employees educating more than 28,000 students.

“Xirrus is well-positioned to handle the requirements of leading organizations like Boulder Valley School District and we’re excited to be a part of their complete infrastructure upgrade,” said Alan Amrod, vice president of Sales and Marketing at Xirrus in a press release. “BVSD can now provide a state-of-the-art wireless network for its students and the surrounding communities capable of supporting a wide range of educational tools both now and in the future.”

The district-wide deployment is part of an overall infrastructure upgrade that includes a high-speed Wide Area Network, Voice over IP implementation, and a video distribution system that enable new types of teaching including distance learning, e-learning, and the distribution of educational video content directly to students using laptops in the classroom.

“Our legacy Wi-Fi network used thin access points and controllers and couldn’t handle the density or flash traffic patterns that were occurring in our classrooms,” said David Williamson, CIO of BVSD in a Xirrus press release. “We looked at several different options and we found that Xirrus’ solution provided the most coverage and capacity per cable drop allowing us to support a wide variety of educational enrichment applications and to better serve our community.”

The Wi-Fi network began deployment last summer with the District’s Headquarters and at Columbine Elementary School. In addition to offering wireless access throughout each school, the Xirrus-powered Wi-Fi network will also provide residents of the local communities with free Wi-Fi via hotspots.

August 15, 2008

The Washington County School District (WCSD) in Utah is delivering WLAN access to more than 22,000 students in the communities of St. George, Washington, Santa Clara, Ivins, Hurricane, LaVerkin, Dammeron Valley, Central, Veyo, Pine Valley, Leeds, Hildale, Virgin, Enterprise, Springdale, Toquerville, and Winchester Hills. Xirrus is deploying the Wi-Fi network for all 41 public k-12 schools in the district.

The deployment began this spring at seven schools.

“We conducted substantial testing of several Wi-Fi manufacturers, but found only the Xirrus Wi-Fi Array capable of supporting the heavy loads from our wireless computer carts,” said Charlie Roberts, Technology and Media Director at WCSD in a press release May 7th. “We were very impressed with the user capacity and bandwidth of the Wi-Fi Array—it is easy to install and provides the flexibility needed for our growing wireless population.”

Washington County’s nineteen school districts were consolidated into the Washington County School District in June 1915. The district covers 2,425 square miles.


Xirrus has announced another campus-wide deployment of its Xirrus Wi-Fi Arrays. Chapman University in Orange County, California will be deploying Wi-Fi at the Marion Knott Studios and then extending the WLAN across the entire campus.

“We looked at several Wi-Fi vendors, searching for a solution that could provide a pervasive and reliable connection for our more than 6,000 students in lecture halls, across open spaces, and in their living quarters—also one that could grow with us as we deployed VoIP phones and upgraded to 802.11n,” said Dave Young, Director of IT at Chapman University in a press release August 6th. “We tested and were amazed at the capabilities of the Xirrus Wi-Fi Array:  It provided the coverage, user density, and bandwidth we needed along with a simplified central management system and was completely upgradable to 802.11n—traditional access points couldn’t come close.”

Chapman University, founded in 1861, is one of the oldest private universities in California. Its campus is located in the heart of Orange County.

August 4, 2008

NEC Unified Solutions, a global provider of enterprise business communications solutions, has completed two major phases of its WLAN deployment for voice and data at the University of Arizona.

The University, which serves more than 32,000 students in Tucson, AZ, has dubbed its network, “UAWiFi.” Despite having left the hyphen out of “Wi-Fi,” the network has accomplished great things. According to NEC Unified Solutions, a wholly-owned subsidiary of NEC Corporation of America, it spans more than 7 million square feet, includes 4,500 wireless access points, and covers 22 buildings. Once the final phase is completed, the deployment will include more than 6,000 access points and span 12 million square feet on two campuses.

Currently, the network can see more than 19,000 WLAN devices connected at any given time and has scaled to more than 53,000 during peak times.

“Access to cutting-edge technology is a key factor in attracting and retaining students at the university level,” said Michele Norin, CIO for the University of Arizona in a press release. “NEC’s ability to manage our VoIP network turnkey, meet our aggressive deployment schedule, and install and service Cisco equipment were our deciding factors. We believe we now have a world-class secure and scalable wireless LAN-based voice and data network for use by students, faculty, staff and visitors alike.”


Pueblo School District No. 70 in Colorado has deployed a Wi-Fi network across three high schools. Equipment provider, Xirrus, estimates that it will serve more than 2,600 student and faculty wireless notebooks, handhelds, and phones.

Pueblo School District No. 70 is the largest geographical school district in the state of Colorado, educating over 8,000 students across four high schools, six middle schools, 12 elementary schools, two charter schools, one alternative middle/high school, and seven pre-schools.

The district has launched a 1:1 Computing Program initiative for all students and faculty, which includes wireless Internet access.

“We come across school districts every day who want to replace their wired connections with wireless ones as a means to increase network performance and student learning, but without the cost and hassle of legacy access points,” said Chad Frisby, Regional Director at Xirrus in a press release. “We delivered a Wi-Fi network at Pueblo School District No. 70 with the same quality of service as a wired network, and we did it with 96 fewer access points, 96 fewer switch ports, 1.5 fewer miles of cabling, and roughly 12,000 less kilowatt hours per year than any other Wi-Fi platform on the market today.”


Temple University is deploying a sizable new Wi-Fi network. Once completed, the network will include more than 900 APs across all eight of its Philadelphia-area campuses. The network uses equipment from Meru Networks and will combine 802.11a/b/g with some 802.11n technology. In some locations, Wi-Fi will replace wired networking altogether.

The Wi-Fi network is already up and running at Temple’s Law School, School of Business, and TECH (Teaching, Education,Collaboration, and Help) Center, a 75,000-square-foot technology facility housing a 700-computer lab.

A pilot 802.11n network at the School of Medicine enables medical students to use high-bandwidth streaming video applications and download complex medical images to their laptops, even in packed lecture halls.

Begun earlier this summer, the project is expected to be completed by year’s end.


Xirrus today announced that Pepperdine University has deployed 161 of its XS8 Wi-Fi Arrays (totaling 1,288 radios) at its Malibu, CA campus.

Pepperdine is an independent Christian university with approximately 8,300 graduate and undergraduate students in five colleges and schools. Its 830-acre campus overlooks the Pacific Ocean.

Westlake Village, CA-based Xirrus is known for its Wi-Fi Array, which it says “obsoletes traditional Wi-Fi offerings by integrating 4, 8, or 16 radios and high-gain directional antennas into a single device along with an on-board gigabit switch, Wi-Fi controller, firewall, dedicated Wi-Fi threat sensor, and embedded spectrum analyzer, providing the performance and security to replace Ethernet workgroup switches with Wi-Fi technology.”

“The intent of the Xirrus architecture is different from any other Wi-Fi offering, because we are focused on eliminating traditional wired Ethernet workgroup switches by replacing them with our Wi-Fi Arrays,” said Dirk Gates, CEO and Founder of Xirrus in a press release today. “To put it bluntly, we are the traditional switch manufacturers worst nightmare, because there is finally a wireless product that is powerful enough to deliver the capacity, performance, and security to replace wired switches while improving the quality of experience of the end user.”For more on Xirrus, read “Xirrus Array Debuts,” “Xirrus Comes to Aid of Tornado-ravaged Town,” “Xirrus Scores OEM Deal.” For more Xirrus campus deployments, see below.

July 31, 2008

The Clinton Public School System in Connecticut has opted to deploy an Aruba Networks WLAN to be used, in part, for wireless video surveillance. The systems will be in place at four elementary, intermediate, and high schools.

The first phase of the deployment, at the Lewis G. Joel Elementary School, acquires surveillance video feeds from Panasonic cameras over secure Wi-Fi links, and then makes the video available to school officials as well as mobile police vehicles over an encrypted Wi-Fi channel. The cameras are capable of isolating individuals’ faces at distances up to 400 meters (more than 1,300 feet), and license plates at over 200 meters (more than 650 feet).

“Besides providing the best possible education for our students, we are also charged with protecting their well-being while under our supervision,” said John Crovo, IT Director for the City of Clinton in an Aruba press release June 23. “Given the size and design of our facilities we determined that video surveillance was our best option for detecting unwanted visitors. We use the Aruba network both for our wireless LAN and to collect data from dispersed Panasonic video cameras. Wireless mesh technology and the weather tight AP-85 Outdoor Access Points allow us to place cameras wherever needed.  The Milestone software provides camera control, video storage, and motion detection that alerts us when undesirable visitors come in proximity to the school. In the event of an incident, city police have secure wireless access to our video, allowing observations right from patrol cars.”

Aruba partner OMNI Data LLC is providing integration services. 

“The Clinton Public School project is the perfect model for any school in need of a cost-effective, highly secure defense against unwelcome visitors including sexual predators, vandals, and drug dealers,” said Scott Sebastian, OMNI Data’s Director of Sales.

 July 9, 2008

Cresskill Junior and Senior High School in Cresskill, NJ announced this week that it has installed a Wi-Fi network to serve its more than 800 students and faculty.

The school’s laptops are moved around the building as needed on mobile carts, and thanks to a recent district initiative, students are also allowed to bring their own laptops to school for educational use, so achieving widespread access to wireless Internet access for online learning tools and other resources was of great importance to administrators and educators at the school.

The district has also implemented the Moodle open-source course-management system, which helps teachers create interactive online instructional programs and distribute assignments.

The Meru Networks WLAN, which consists of hallway-mounted wireless access points managed by a central controller, replaces a legacy network that required plugging wireless hardware directly into the school’s computers.

“When a cart with 25 laptops rolls into the classroom, everyone expects to log on immediately and begin doing research for their projects,” said Kevin Whitney, district technology coordinator for Cresskill Public Schools in a Meru Networks press release Monday. “With our old system, half the class often wasn’t able to authenticate and get access, and even then there were lots of timeouts. I kept coming across references in the trade press to Meru’s ability to handle high density very well, and it’s true. Now everyone can connect at once, no matter what kind of laptop they’re using, and our wireless network is incredibly reliable.”

The Cresskill deployment uses Meru’s AP201 single-radio IEEE 802.11a/b/g access point, the fixed-configuration MC3000 series controller, and Air Traffic Control technology for centralized intelligent RF management, QoS, and security.

Cresskill is located in the northern valley area of Bergen County, NJ. The Cresskill Board of Education operates three schools:  Edward H. Bryan School and Merritt Memorial School for grades kindergarten through six, and Cresskill Junior/Senior High School for grades seven through twelve. Newsweek magazine ranked Cresskill Junior and Senior High School in the top one per cent of high schools nationally. 

June 18, 2008

Xirrus announced yesterday that a nationally recognized school district in Georgia has chosen Xirrus for its new district-wide Wi-Fi network. The Forsyth County School district, which serves more than 35,000 students, faculty, and staff, is the largest employer in Forsyth County.

“We put Xirrus through the paces for over a year—we started with six schools, analyzing the results in detail before selecting Xirrus for the entire district,” said Mark Klingler, Director of Technical Services at Forsyth County Schools in a Xirrus press release Tuesday. “…We are putting in the same number of radios (4,000+) as other offerings, but doing it with only 500 Arrays instead of our original estimation of 2,000 access points—Xirrus saved the district over 1,500 cable pulls and will be easier to support.”

Established in 1860, Forsyth County Schools was one of the first free public school systems in Georgia and currently serves a rapidly expanding student body, adding approximately 2,000 new students each year.

Technology is a priority for the district. Every teacher in the system has a laptop, which they use for online grading, reporting, and e-mail. All computers within the Forsyth County schools are networked and offer broadband Internet access. The student to computer ratio is 2:1 and students produce live television broadcasts and have access to a plethora of digital devices including scanners, handhelds, and digital cameras. Parents can also check on their child’s portfolios, assignments, grades, and discipline online.

June 16, 2008

Meru Networks announced today that Tennessee’s highly-ranked Oak Ridge School District has deployed a Wi-Fi network in its newly built Oak Ridge High School and in two middle schools. Roughly 3,000 users will now have Internet access in the schools.

By August, Meru expects to have installed 170 APs, most of which will provide wireless coverage across classrooms, administrative areas, and outdoor spaces for the 1500 students and their teachers at Oak Ridge High School.

Teachers equipped with tablet PCs will now be able to move about easily in classrooms while using the WLAN to access and present instructional video materials. 

“For us, wireless is about teacher mobility and the modern educational environment’s need for uninterrupted Internet access,” said Ray Thach, director of technology for Oak Ridge Schools in a press release today.  “We put three major wireless vendors through a lengthy performance test—not in a labenvironment but in a real-world scenario, with teachers using the networks in actual math and science classes. Only Meru powered up, easily deployed, and provided the performance and reliability we were looking for.”

In addition to addressing critical teacher requirements, Thach said that Meru’s single-channel approach made his network administration job less labor-intensive.

“With all the Meru access points on one channel, there’s none of the tedious channel planning that is such aheadache with other vendors’ networks,” he said.  “Network moves, adds and changes are simple. If it turns out that we need another access point for coverage reasons, we just put one in without spending staff time on planning and placement—like plugging in a lamp to get more light. In a K-12 environment, where you’re typically trying to accomplish the impossible with a small staff, not having to do channel planning was, by itself, enough of a reason to choose Meru.”

According to Thach, the district plans to upgrade to 802.11n in selected areas and to extend it into its four elementary schools at some point.

The Oak Ridge Schools deployment includes the Meru AP208 access point, which has two radios bothcapable of operating  in 802.11a and 802.11b/g modes, and the Meru MC3000 series controller.

June 10, 2008

The Plainfield Community Consolidated School District 202 in Plainfield, Illinois has chosen Aruba Networks’ WLAN solution for use across its twenty-eight schools. The district covers a 64-square-mile area and supports more than 29,000 students and 3,500 faculty and staff.

As part of with the district’s five-year plan, an evaluation of the district-wide instructional technology was conducted, which determined that the investment in a Wi-Fi network would benefit faculty, staff, and students.

“By 2020 our district will be the second-largest in Illinois after the City of Chicago, and our objective was to put in plan wireless infrastructure that could meet our needs today and scale to accommodate future growth,” said Russell Moore, Senior Network Administrator of PCSD202 in a press release issued last week.

Aruba’s “unified mobility” solutions deliver secure networks by integrating adaptive 802.11n WLANs, identity-based security, Wi-Fi-to-cellular solutions, and multi-vendor network management. 

“Aruba’s wireless LANs are self-optimizing and automate most set-up tasks to maximize reliability and lower IT staff overhead,” said Chris Harget, Aruba’s head of K-12 education marketing in a press release last Wednesday. “Our Adaptive Radio Management technology continuously adjusts the network for best data, voice, and video performance, while correcting for interference from nearby networks. Centralized network management enables a small IT team to oversee a very large network, and remotely diagnose problems, download software updates, and modify security policies district-wide. The result is a network that reliably and securely delivers critical eLearning applications, while scaling to meet the needs of even the largest K-12 school districts.”

June 4, 2008

Not even a decade into a new century, 21st century schools are already leaps and bounds ahead of their 20th century predecessors. In schools like the ones in Brevard County, Florida, Wi-Fi is being employed for a myriad of educational uses and planners believe that even Facebook could positively impact future applications. For more, read “Wi-Fi Schools of the Future.”

May 20, 2008

Aruba Networks announced today another campus deployment win: the Spring Branch Independent School District (ISD) in Houston, Texas will deploy Aruba’s 802.11n WLAN technology and identity-based security for use across the district’s 51 facilities,  including 46 elementary, intermediate, and high schools.

Spring Branch ISD’s campuses cover more than 44 square miles. The network will serve more than 32,000 students and 6,800 faculty and staff. According to Aruba, the district’s technology plan dictated that a district-wide secure Wi-Fi network was needed to address the “learning and administrative needs of faculty, staff, and students.”

The new network will replace a legacy wireless network that served just part of the district, and will address security and scalability requirements.

“We run a sizable district spread over a large area, and it was imperative that the new wireless network be very simple to set-up and maintain, meet our current and future networking needs including streaming video, and offer high security to protect the privacy and confidentiality of faculty, staff, and student communications,” said Venu Rao, Spring Branch ISD’s Chief Information Officer in an Aruba Networks press release today.

The network will include roughly 2,000 802.11n Aps. Security will include encryption and a “policy-based” firewall.

A free technical brief on 802.11n laptop performance titled 802.11n Client Throughput Performance can be downloaded from Aruba’s Web site.

May 1, 2008

For those interested in learning more about successful WLAN deployments in K-12 environments, Cisco will be hosting a live Webcast on Monday, May 5th from 10:00-10:45 a.m. Pacific Daylight Time.

Representatives from two North American K-12 school districts (one American, one Canadian) will discuss their vision, strategy, and experiences leveraging Cisco’s networking and wireless solutions. IT professionals from School District No. 23 in Kelowna, British Columbia and the award-winning Brevard School District, in Viera, Florida will discuss the planning and deployment of their networks.

The discussion will also highlight K-12 education and technology trends, characteristics of 21st century schools, and will feature a live Q&A session.

To register for the Webcast. For those unable to attend the live Webcast, it will be available for replay at the same URL starting on Tuesday, May 6, at 10:00 a.m. PDT.

April 29, 2008

Bluesocket announced today that Anglia Ruskin University is deploying its wireless and mobility solution throughout two campuses in Cambridge and Chelmsford, England. The deployment will include Bluesocket’s new BSAP-1800 802.11n Access Points (released today) and, according to Bluesocket, “will create an all-wireless campus with improved scalability, reliabilit,y and control while paving the way for a complete 802.11n environment.”

Anglia Ruskin University recently expanded its wireless access for students and faculty with 100 Bluesocket BSAP-1540 802.11 a/b/g APs and BSC-5200 Controllers. The University is now preparing for a “complete 802.11n wireless transition” by upgrading its new faculty building to 802.11n.

April 14, 2008

More than 50,000 Oregon school children in the Lane County School districts will be receiving broadband Wi-Fi access at their schools. The Lane Education Service District (ESD) has selected Aruba Networks for the deployment, which will serve sixteen school districts and more than 120 elementary, intermediate, and high schools in the region.

“The only way to build a low-maintenance, scalable wireless LAN is by using a centralized, controlled-based architecture with easy-to-use RF visualization and management plus captive portal functionality for guest access,” said Russell Rubrecht, Lane ESD’s Manager of Network Services in a press release issued today. “A controller-based network has a single point of management and, used with RF visualization, allows for remote observation of the wireless LAN without venturing into classrooms and workspaces. Easy-to-use RF management eliminates the need for an engineer to run the network day-to-day, while a captive portal allows users to log in without first loading client software. We selected Aruba because they folded all of those features into one controller, eliminating external RF management and captive portal servers and licenses, and making the network much easier to use.”

Rubrecht was further quoted in the release as saying, “One of Aruba’s unique features is its remote AP software license that allows any access point to become a VPN end device. We plan to use remote APs where we need a single device, managed from a central location, to provide wireless LAN and VPN, e.g., Lane ESD’s 32 remote Special Ed classrooms. Because of features like the remote AP it’s my opinion that you get more for your money with Aruba—it’s the Holy Grail of 802.11 wireless.”

April 10, 2008

Aruba Networks announced yesterday that McGill University will be deploying its adaptive wireless LANs across its two Montreal, Quebec campuses. The prestigious university is one of the largest universities in the Canadian province of Quebec, serving more than 33,000 students and 1,570 faculty and staff members.

McGill has already deployed more than 2,700 out of a total of 3,700 Aruba APs, making it among the largest university Wi-Fi networks in Canada. Including McGill University, Aruba networks now serve more than 250,000 students in Canadian universities.

“Universities are challenging environments for wireless networks because of the size of their campuses, the large number of simultaneous users, the dynamic nature of network usage, and the security challenge posed by tens of thousands of unsecured laptops,” said Fran Sanda, Aruba’s manager for Canadian sales in a press release Wednesday.  “In addition to the robustness and adaptability of our wireless LAN, the ease-of-use of its centralized network management architecture, and the strength of its security features, we believe ARM played a central role in delivering the solid performance McGill University and its users have experienced.”

April 7, 2008

Aruba Networks announced today that the University of Wyoming has selected Aruba’s adaptive wireless LAN and AirWave Wireless Management Suite for deployment at its Laramie campus. The new network will replace the University’s legacy WLAN.

Founded in 1887 as a land grant institution, the university serves roughly 13,000 students and is the only provider of baccalaureate and graduate education in the state.

Aruba’s interoperable architecture supports all standard clients including Centrino, Pentium, and Apple, which is particularly useful in college campus environments.

“Universities rely on their wireless LANs as an essential communications medium for students, faculty, and staff, and as such they must perform well in what is a very dynamic and challenging environment,” said Robert Fenstermacher, of Aruba’s Higher Education Marketing team in a press release today. “Whether enabling interactive learning in densely populated lecture halls, distributing streaming video lectures, or providing softphone capabilities on mobile devices like Apple’s iPhone, our adaptive wireless LANs are up to the challenge. Used in conjunction with the vendor-neutral AirWave management platform, the result is a standards-based secure mobility solution with industry-leading throughput and low installation and operating costs.”

March 24, 2008

Wayne State University (WSU) in Detroit, Michigan, announced today that it has launched a $1.3 million technology initiative, which will include deployment of a new 802.11n network. The project will double the current capacity of Wayne State’s existing wireless network, “wireless@wayne.”

The deployment, which began earlier this month, is expected to take one year. Meru Networks’ 802.11n solution will replace the current 802.11b/g wireless access points in 28 WSU buildings, and will be deployed in 22 additional buildings. The total number of APs will increase from 453 to 1,000 to cover all residential and academic buildings on the main campus and will serve up to 33,000 students.

March 19, 2008

Utah State University announced today that it has successfully blanketed its 400-acre campus with Wi-Fi. The WLAN, which features more than 700 Meru Indoor and Outdoor access points, will serve roughly 25,000 students, faculty, and staff. 150 buildings, including all academic facilities and residences on the Logan, Utah, campus are covered. Future plans call for access to be added to commonly-used outdoor areas and inter-building corridors, in the hope of providing seamless campus-wide VoWi-Fi. Prior to this upgrade, Utah State had a WLAN that contained approximately 50 APs and supported only a handful of buildings on campus.

For indoor wireless coverage, Utah State uses Meru’s AP201 single-radio IEEE 802.11a/b/g access point, which supports 2.4- and 5-GHz operation. For outdoor coverage, the university has tested Meru’s OAP180 Rugged Access Point and plans to begin deployment this spring. Nine Meru MC3000 series controllers have been deployed, separated into two groups—academic and residential—each with an N+1 configuration for failover purposes.According to a university spokesperson, the Utah State Wi-Fi network will begin to incorporate 802.11n in the next major upgrade.

March 14, 2008

Motorola and Moonblink Communications this week announced that the San Marino Unified School District in Northern California will be their first customer to deploy an 802.11n Wi-Fi network using the new Motorola AP-7131 tri-radio access point along with Motorola’s Point-to-Point (PTP) solutions to connect a total of four school campuses.

The AP-7131 provides 24/7 intrusion protection and delivers full 600Mbps connection speeds, while simultaneously providing enterprise-class security.

February 21, 2008

Duke University announced this week that it is about to roll out the next phase of its 802.11n deployment. The network features 2,500 Cisco 802.11n Aironet 1250 Series APs, which, according to Cisco, makes it the largest planned 802.11n wireless network in the world by any organization to date.

Duke intends to light up more than six million square feet of its Raleigh, N.C. campus to service roughly 45,000 students, faculty, and staff in academic halls, libraries, residence halls, and other campus buildings with high-speed, broadband Wi-Fi

“We expect the campus-wide 802.11n wireless network to increasingly be the primary mode of connectivity for data access and mobility applications,” said Duke’s chief information officer, Tracy Futhey. “The value of a technology like 802.11n is about enabling new kinds of uses on our campus, giving our students new opportunities and enabling faculty to push the limits and try things that were not possible before on previous wireless technologies.”

So far, testing has proved the benefits of the upgraded network.

“During real-world tests, Duke experienced predictable and reliable wireless coverage and consistent average data throughput performance of nearly 130 Mbps per client with the Cisco Aironet 1250 Series access point,” said Cisco in a press release Tuesday. “In addition, tests at Duke indicated that existing 802.11g clients such as laptops connected to a Cisco Aironet 1250 Series access point obtained almost twice the data rate achieved while connected to an older wireless network, demonstrating the benefit of 802.11n to existing Wi-Fi devices.”

Among the uses to which the network will be put are collaborative learning exercises and video applications. No mention has yet been made regarding whether or not Vo-Wi-Fi is in the plans.

February 11, 2008

The University of Miami has selected Meru Networks to deploy its new campus-wide 802.11n network. The indoor/outdoor deployment began last month and is expected to be completed early this spring. Once finished, the Wi-Fi network will include 525 wireless access points and will serve more than 25,000 students, faculty, and staff. The University plans to had VoWi-Fi later this year. Roughly 20% of the APs have been deployed to date.

The Meru products being used in the deployment include the AP300 family of single- and dual-radio APs, and the MC5000 controllers, which provide centralized intelligence and control for up to 1,000 access points. In anticipation of natural disasters or other causes of outages, plans call for the deployment of two geographically separated MC5000 units–one in the university’s data center, the other in the main campus–in a fully redundant configuration.

February 6, 2008

Concordia University in Montreal has deployed Canada’s first campus-wide 802.11n wireless network. The indoor/outdoor WLAN uses the Wi-Fi-certified 802.11n Aironet 1250 Series Access Points from Cisco to expand its existing campus-wide 802.11g network. The upgraded network serves approximately 40,000 students.

Concordia has been on the cutting-edge of wireless technology in Canada since the turn of the century. Its claims to fame include “deploying Canada’s first WLAN” in 2001 and becoming Canada’s first university to roll out VoWi-Fi (2003).

Currently, the university acts as a telecommunications service provider to students, faculty, and staff. Use of the indoor 802.11n network is offered for free, but the university charges subscribers a monthly rate of CAN$8.99 for outdoor access. The university is currently working on a plan that will allow students to seamlessly offload calls from their mobile providers’ networks while on campus.

 “Our IT organization serves as a service provider, a storage provider, a software provider, and more,” said Andrew McAusland, associate vice president of Instructional and Information Technology Services at Concordia University in a press release issued last week. “We make a conscientious effort to provide our students with advanced services…Our work with Cisco, particularly the combination of 802.11n wireless networking, VoIP over WLAN, outdoor mesh and seamless mobile collaboration technologies, brings this vision to life.”

Cisco’s Aironet 1250 Series Access Point was introduced to market last fall and is the industry’s first Wi-Fi-certified 802.11n draft 2.0 access point.

February 1st, 2008

The public school system in Santa Fe, New Mexico, has begun deploying a WLAN that will provide wireless coverage for 35 buildings more than 14,000 students, faculty and staff over the next two years. The Wi-Fi network is expected to cost $500,000-$750,000 over the term of the project. Coverage will extend district-wide to include three high schools, four middle schools, 19 elementary schools, and various administration buildings. 

The initial IEEE 802.11a/b/g WLAN deployment uses Meru solutions—already in use at three schools in the district. Plans are in effect to add draft 11n APs, as well. The Meru AP300 Access Point family and MC5000 Controller, which will be used in this deployment, are fully backward-compatible with the company’s 802.11a/b/g products.

The district-wide Wi-Fi deployment is one element an ongoing infrastructure upgrade, which will enable teachers and students take advantage of an array of streaming video-based learning materials.

The first Meru APs were installed in 2006. The district-wide coverage is expected to be completed by 2010.

December 13, 2007

Cornell University announced this week that it has begun deploying Aruba Networks’ adaptive wireless LANs across its 745-acre Ithaca, New York campus. The Ivy League university is home to more than 20,000 students and 14,000 faculty and staff. Once completed, the network will include 4,500 wireless indoor and outdoor access points.

The first phase of Cornell’s deployment involves replacing almost 900 legacy wireless devices with Aruba’s wireless access points, including new 802.11n devices. The APs will be managed by Aruba’s 80Gbps MMC-6000 Multi-Service Mobility Controller.

The School District of Philadelphia (SDP), the eighth largest school district in the U.S., is now home to one of the world’s largest enterprise-grade wireless LANs.

Meru Networks and Avaya teamed up on the project, which will provide applications including VoWi-Fi and video to nearly 268 schools. The new network will serve more than 166,000 students and 10,000 teachers.

Meru says it has deployed 7,000 radio switches and more than 28,000 radios. Avaya is providing the communications applications and services, and was the system integrator for the project, along with H. J. Heinz Company.

The network is part of the “School of the Future” project, a 2005 initiative led by Microsoft and the SDP. 

November 26, 2007

Envision Schools (ES), a non-profit charter management organization located in the San Francisco Bay area, has announced that it will deploy Xirrus Wi-Fi arrays on the campuses of all four of its high schools: Impact Academy of Arts & Technology; Envision Academy of Arts & Technology; Metropolitan School of Arts & Technology; and City Arts &Technology High School, all of which are located in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Envision charter schools employ a project-based instructional model, which utilizes a “personalized learning environment” and workplace learning. Arts and digital technology are integrated across all content areas as tools for understanding and expression. The schools have a 2:1 student-to-laptop ratio.

The Xirrus Wi-Fi rollout is part of an overall infrastructure upgrade at ES. 

“Xirrus’s Wi-Fi network is part of our three-year technology plan designed to deliver on our mission to get all students, especially First Generation College Bound students, to and through college. We use technology to enable our students to achieve advanced levels within California State Standards,” said John Krull, VP of Technology at Envision in a press release.

Co-founded by Daniel McLaughlin, a former Vice President at Bank of America, and Bob Lenz, an award-winning teacher and nationally recognized school reform leader, Envision Schools began operations in June 2002. The nonprofit organization creates small, high-performing urban public schools designed to serve diverse student bodies, particularly First Generation College Bound (FGCB) youth. A fifth ES charter school was scheduled to open this fall.

November 14th, 2007

Aruba Networks announced on Monday that Carnegie Mellon University has started deploying Aruba’s 802.11n adaptive wireless LANs across its campus. Located in Pittsburgh, PA, Carnegie Mellon has roughly 10,000 students and 4,000 faculty and staff.

The university, known in large part for its research facilities, has been something of a pioneer in wireless networking thanks to its Wireless Andrew program. Wireless Andrew began as a research network in 1994 to support Carnegie Mellon’s wireless research initiative, and was later expanded throughout the academic and administrative buildings as well as student residence halls. Aruba’s equipment will be used to update the entire academic campus network—but not campus residence halls–with 802.11n managed by Aruba’s new 80Gbps Multi-Service Mobility Controllers. Specifically, the university will employ Aruba’s AP-124/AP-125 802.11n Access Points and 80Gbps MMC-6000 Multi-Service Mobility Controller.

November 13th, 2007

Last month, just before the famed swallows made their annual departure from San Juan Capistrano, California, students at a local Catholic high school (JSerra) were treated to a new arrival: a Wi-Fi network that blankets the entire 40-acre campus with coverage. The network, made up of Xirrus Wi-Fi arrays will serve the faculty, staff, and 1,000 students.

All JSerra students are required to use a laptop and to connect to the campus-wide network as part of what the administration calls “academic enrichment activities.” Students are also required to check student portals and utilize the school’s Web mail system.

Loyola College in Maryland has expanded its wireless campus network using Meru’s Fourth Generation WLAN System. The Meru Wi-Fi system was initially deployed only in residence halls and consisted of 300 Meru AP208 APs and four Meru MC3150 wireless controllers. It is now being expanded to cover the main campus and three satellite facilities. The system will provide complete wireless access to more than 6,000 students and 1,000 faculty and staff.

Loyola is a Jesuit Catholic comprehensive university with 3,500 undergraduate and 2,600 graduate students. In addition to basic Internet access, the network is used for video, voice, and data applications.

Naomi Graychase is Managing Editor at Wi-FiPlanet.

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