Keeping connections strong:  Top considerations for your higher education wireless network

October 24th, 2018
campus IT network design

Advances in wireless technology, apps and phone functionality keep all of us connected. And that is even more present on higher education campuses where wireless is being used to enable advanced learning, interactive events and reliable service to support the day-to-day wireless traffic.  

Education industry standards advise to plan for at least three wireless devices to be connected for each person. Beyond the number of devices, the material accessed such as high-bandwidth videos, and increasing security concerns greatly affect the demand on wireless networks.   That in turn affects the amount of cabling needed, network complexity, security and reliability. How can today’s higher education facility and information technology managers plan for and enable a robust wireless network on campus?

Quality wireless network designs are critical to today’s learning environments.  If planned, designed and installed to align with technology demand and educational mission, wireless networks can be dependable and enable unique uses of technology in learning, at events and more.  Here are some key areas to consider when planning or updating your school’s wireless network.

  1. More collaborative educational tools are using wireless to provide an advanced learning experience.  New technologies increasingly have more capabilities, which exponentially increases the demand on the campus network. As an example, students are able to project what they are working on to a shared classroom board.  Asking how instructors intend to use technology will help you develop a better understanding of your wireless need. Supporting an advanced learning experience with a network that can respond to demand provides you with a competitive advantage.
  2. Planning is critical to wireless networks as it affects the cabling solution.  If a wireless network isn’t planned, the backbone supporting a particular building might not be robust enough.  This could cause a crash. Even if it happens one time, instructors get frustrated and may opt to not use the technology.  New technology comes with a learning curve. A reliable wireless network helps using these new systems easier for everyone.

  3. Plan for increasing number of devices.  You can’t monitor or stop the BYOD (bring your own device per person).  Instead plan for wireless for both educational and other purposes – admin, student spaces and common spaces.  Separate networks for educational and public purposes allow for different layers of security to enable reliable and secure wireless.

  4. Explore wireless network design for large events.  While at a game, concert or other school function, wireless use is a part of the student, faculty and visitor experience.  In an arena, wireless networks are particularly subject to a bowl affect and are forced to project from an angle, which could cause weak or a lost wireless signal.  Help people promote their experience at your school with a reliable network. Recent trends include putting wireless under seats.