Wireless 802.11n Network Solutions For Education
The All-Wireless Campus
By leveraging best-in-class wireless networking technologies, colleges, universities and K-12 institutions can address today’s challenges by enabling the all-wireless campus. High performance 802.11n LAN and wireless broadband networks allow the delivery of reliable high-speed wireless voice, video and data inside buildings as well as throughout the campus grounds, providing support for applications that greatly improve the learning environment, campus security and the overall productivity of faculty and staff; while providing value added services that strengthen relationships with students and their parents.
Step 1: Define your Requirements
While all schools have some common requirements, your school has unique needs. Your WLAN should be designed to meet the requirements and stay within budget. Here are a few basic questions that should be considered when gathering requirements:
- WHO needs wireless connectivity? Faculty/staff, students or guests?
- WHAT computing devices will service be provided for? Laptops, Desktops, Point-Of-Sale devices, cell phones/PDAs, IP phones, etc? What applications will need to be supported (general Internet data, streaming video, IP multicast, voice, etc)?
- WHERE do users need wireless connectivity? Classrooms, offices, outside, etc?
- HOW MANY devices need wireless access in each location? Classrooms, cafeteria, library, offices, etc)? How much bandwidth will be needed to support various applications?
These areas will drive basic design principles such as coverage, capacity and security. It is absolutely essential to define the requirements up front as they will they will dictate the entire design.
Step 2: Evaluate and Select a WLAN Architecture
WLANs consist of devices called Access Points (APs) which convert wired Ethernet frames to wireless RF signals. Client devices associated with the AP receive the RF signals which are then converted and processed as appropriate. At a basic level, there are two main approaches to deploying WLANs – (1) using autonomous APs (also known as “fat” APs) and (2) using lightweight APs (also known as “thin” APs).
To properly evaluate these architectures, you should select a partner that understands the pros and cons and can help you make the best decision to meet your requirements and budget. TPI has extensive experience with both architectures and is fully prepared to help you make the right selection.
Step 3: Invest in a Professional Site Survey
The wireless site survey is critical to the success of your project. The wireless site survey output will determine the placement of AP’s and channel selection for optimal coverage and capacity. It is important that the same model of equipment be used during the survey as is deployed in production. Network requirements must be defined prior to performing the site survey. Some schools have opted to not have professional site surveys performed prior to a deployment due to cost constraints. The long-term operational costs associated with a poor layout/design will far outweigh the costs of a proper survey.
Step 4: Develop a Cohesive Wireless Security and Intrusion Detection Strategy
Often times, wireless security and intrusion detection are considered after the WLAN is designed and installed. When considered during the design process, the most comprehensive and cost-effective solutions can be embedded in the network at the least possible cost.
Step 5: Procure, Install and Test the WLAN Equipment
TPI can provide the most cost-effective solution to meet your budget and requirements. In addition, professional installation services are available to install the WLAN in compliance with the wireless site survey, channel selection, antenna placement, etc.
Step 6: Leverage Your WLAN to Enhance Learning
Congratulations! At this point you have a WLAN that your school can use for best-in-class solutions. Below is a sample of applications to improve the operation of your school.
Real-Time Faculty and Administrative Applications
A wireless network can provide a wealth of applications that help teachers spend more time on teaching instead of administrative tasks, helping to improve the overall quality of the education. K-12 wireless attendance applications can eliminate paper forms, saving time, eliminating errors and enabling rapid identification of missing students. The ability to send wireless work orders to maintenance staff not only improves productivity, but also enables faster repair from a leaky faucet or faulty heating unit to the removal of broken glass in the parking lot helping to maintain a safer and cleaner environment for all.
Voice over WLAN (VoWLAN)
The same wireless network that provides access to the Internet, video and back-end business applications can also enable the delivery of wireless voice services. Voice over WLAN (VoWLAN) handsets provide cost-effective connectivity for teachers and administrators throughout campus, effectively eliminating monthly cell phone service fees as well as the need and cost associated with running cabling to classrooms. Smartphone-style handsets provide a virtual and mobile extension of the desk phone, complete with the desk phone feature set including abbreviated 4-digit extension dialing, one-number reach, one voicemail box, call forwarding, conference calling and more without replacing the PBX. This same device can provide push-to-talk private calls and group calls for immediate connectivity, and can even communicate with two-way radios on existing radio systems. With access to email, messaging, the Internet, and Windows Mobile based enterprise applications, you can finally have all of your communications converged in a cost-effective mobile device.
An 802.11n wireless network provides the highly reliable and pervasive backbone required to support a broad range of emergency communications For example, a wireless electronic message board can be utilized to advise students of a gas leak that requires the evacuation of a section of the campus. The ability to reach all faculty and administrators simultaneously through a group push-to-talk walkie-talkie style call to Voice over WLAN (VoWLAN) handsets allows administrators, campus security and more to rapidly spread the word during emergencies. An email or text message can be sent to any wireless device on the network or off-campus.
The ability to wirelessly connect video cameras both indoors and outdoors eliminates the high cost of wiring, enabling educational institutions to blanket the campus with video cameras. The result is real time streaming video, providing visibility into every inch of the campus, enabling security personnel to immediately discover and respond to virtually any type of on-campus incident. The digital video is easy to archive and retrieve, sophisticated analytics proactively identify potential problems and the wireless network allows personnel anywhere on campus to watch the video.
e-Citations and Automatic License Plate Recognition
Mobility allows campus police to carry a mobile handheld computer that provides access to student information as well as the ability to electronically issue a citation. Now, campus police can quickly verify vehicle stickers and check for any other outstanding citations for example, to help identify a repeat offender who parks in areas designated for faculty or emergency vehicles. Auto-fill fields, drop-down and checkboxes ensure citation accuracy. Additionally, the ability to deploy a cost-effective ALPR solution enables educational organizations to easily and automatically monitor vehicles that are entering the campus. When a vehicle that is wanted or stolen, or associated with outstanding violations enters the grounds, campus police are instantly notified, enabling the swift action required to help better protect students and faculty.
A high-speed wireless network provides a vehicle to enhance and extend the learning environment. In higher education, students can access learning portals, course information and online libraries as well as collaborate with classmates and professors on other campuses. K-12 facilities can give students online access to class and individual lessons as well as homework assignments, library services and more.
Live Coverage of Sporting Events
Sporting events are an important aspect of every school. The wireless network allows schools and universities to enable easy and cost-effective viewing of the event live or streamed at a later date. In addition, the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) in the U.S. requires colleges and universities in certain divisions to provide Internet access in the press boxes. A wireless network eliminates the high provides the flexibility to move press areas as needed. Says Dan Schumacher, Director of Athletics at Lewis University, more cost effective for us to have wireless than to hard wire a press box 300 yards away from the nearest building. Wireless is the answer.
Automated Asset Tracking
Wi-Fi locationing technology enables the automatic tracking of assets from laptop computers in K-12 to expensive medical equipment in a university. Now, assets can be easily located when needed, potentially reducing inventory requirements. Stolen assets are instantly visible, providing a theft deterrent that protects against equipment loss and the resulting negative impact on your budget.
Anytime, Anywhere Voice and Data Access…For Anyone
The ability to deliver truly resilient wireless voice and data services to every corner of your campus serves the needs of the student body as well as the educational institution. Provide anytime anywhere access to class registration systems, grades, learning portals and student services as well as personal services, such as VoIP and video services, meeting the demands of your students and faculty. With the real-time access to student transcripts, online testing and grading applications as well as online knowledge bases, your faculty has the tools required to deliver an enriched learning experience as well as improve productivity. You can even extend wireless access to guests from visiting professors to the families of your students without compromising network security.
TPI: Making The Truly Wireless Campus A Reality
TPI’s 802.11n wireless network solutions are helping higher education and K-12 institutions of all sizes realize the promise of the truly wireless campus. With speeds up to six times the bandwidth of 802.11a/g, our indoor/outdoor 802.11n wireless networks offer the throughput, coverage, resiliency and security required to enable cost effective delivery of some of the most demanding applications.
The Many Applications in the All-Wireless Campus
- Fixed mobile convergence
- Emergency communications
- Video surveillance
- e-Citations and Automatic License Plate Recognition
- Distance learning
- Live coverage of sporting events
- Automated asset tracking
- Anytime, anywhere voice and data access…for anyone
Bottom Line: TPI has the experience and expertise to deliver the campus of tomorrow…today…….. with indoor/outdoor wireless network solutions.