The Six Factors to Consider When Choosing A Wireless Solution for Your School
There are many factors to consider when planning a wireless infrastructure or looking to renew your aging wireless hardware. Here you will find 6 main points to watch when embarking on a WiFi project for education.
Security is a factor which is often neglected and most wireless deployments apply a static pass key and basic encryption as the only form of protection. The use of low level encryption and weak passwords allow the wireless network to be compromised easily allowing open access to sensitive information on the servers and network. Schools must adopt Network Access Control over their wireless network to verify the identity of the connecting devices and users before authorising and allowing or rejecting and preventing connection to the wireless network. We can provide wireless solutions that give schools the highest level of security one would expect for enterprise networks using IEEE802.1x with Domain or RADIUS authentication and encryption.
Connecting to a broadcast wireless network is only the beginning. The true test of any wireless network infrastructure is the ability to sustain connection with all its devices. Wireless devices tend to drop their connection to the wireless network when it is not in use to conserve energy. Hence the quickest test for any connectivity issue faced by a wireless device is to check its power management functions and settings. This resolves some of the issues faced but others may find that even with the correct settings, the devices will still lose its connection randomly. There are many factors as to why this happens among them, poor channel allocation, interference with other electronic devices and bandwidth limitation. We can provide a complete wireless network assessment and consultancy services.
Scalability is the most famous acid test for any wireless network. Often this is found in functional specifications and hardware requirements forming part of a tender document as a post installation test. Will the wireless network sustain 10 – 20 laptops connecting, logging on, accessing the Internet and transferring data simultaneously from a single location? Even some of the highest models of wireless network hardware available for domestic applications struggle with more than 4 laptops connecting in this fashion. An effective wireless network is where all transmitting and receiving devices operate on available radio frequencies. Our experience allows us to design medium to enterprise intelligent wireless network to provide a robust service that will cope with a high volume of connections.
Users often perceive wireless networking as just that, an extension of the wired network and nothing more. However with the right configuration, controls and hardware solutions, there is so much you can do to enhance the wireless service. To start you may think about offering wireless services to students’ or teachers’ own devices such as mobile phone, iPod Touch and PDA securely without access to the local area network. For guests, parents and the community, you may think about offering after-hours bandwidth and/or time restricted access in line with your community inclusion policy. You may also decide to provide this as an add-on to your schools facility letting such as the use of the school hall while keeping your network separate. We can help you do all this and more.
Choosing the right solution will give you the added advantage of coping with capacity-oriented usage and bandwidth demands on the wireless network. Two parameters that have direct implication on the performance of wireless network are the radio bandwidth and speed of the wired uplink (100/1000Mbps). Where radio bandwidth is concerned, it is easy to see how the intelligent use radio channels will allow for better performance. Using dual radio (and sometimes triple radio) access points allows you to double (or more) the available radio bandwidth for a single location. We recommend WiFi Alliance certified 802.11n IEEE standard compliant equipments with interoperability with all existing IEEE802.11a/b/g/n devices for optimum configuration.
With more and more wireless enabled devices available in different formats; laptops, netbooks, tablet PCs and slates as well as handheld computers and smart phones, wireless infrastructure in schools are finding more use than ever before. Then there is also the software application that goes on these devices. Cloud computing and web-enabled services such as the Learning Platform, Blogs, Wikipedia and Internet-enabled modular applications and widgets allow users to access relevant information on these devices in new and exciting ways.
The latest addition to these devices, the Apple iPad, proves that innovation such as these not only allows the distribution of new and existing software apps (as they are know) for education but also engage the students on a level that appeals to them with simple touch and gestures user interface. All these can only be made possible with a robust, reliable and scalable wireless infrastructure in the school. For more information, contact us here.
Author: Samuel J. Tan
…Investing in the right level of equipment and technology for a wireless infrastructure now will see returns on investment for years to come…