Seven considerations for schools upgrading their wireless network

Seven considerations for schools upgrading their wireless network

Wireless networks are the lifeblood connecting technology with users in schools. Ensuring you have a reliable, fast network in place is a key responsibility of IT departments.

When upgrading it’s important to take the time to make sure you get it right, not only for the school’s needs now, but also into the future. Here are some important considerations schools should ask themselves before implementing an upgrade of their wireless.


1

Eliminate dead spots

Now is the time to identify and resolve unwanted dead spots in your network. Nothing is more frustrating for users than not being able to access the network when they need it. And dead spots put an unnecessary burden on IT support, so resolving them really is a win-win. See our post on wireless mapping. It’s likely that some of these dead spots won’t have cabling points to them, so this needs planning in too (more about CSE’s Networking Infrastructure).

2

Network coverage expansion

Different to dead spots, network expansion is about increasing your wireless coverage to areas that were not previously considered necessary. Dining hall, sports hall, offices, outdoor areas – you can even send your wireless system home with your teachers via a VPN! Now is the time to consult with senior leadership and agree how comprehensive the wireless network needs to be. Planning this expansion now makes much more sense than bolting it on at a later date.

3

Network overload

Whether your school is planning to introduce BYOD or not, the demands on your wireless network will still increase over the coming years as more school owned devices rely on wireless, and use of cloud based resources becomes the norm. So, it’s important to future proof your network by considering what potential demand might look like five, 10 and even 15 years ahead. Does your network have a backbone capable of handling a system where each WAP can deal with large amounts of traffic from many users?

4

Load balancing

The demands placed on your wireless network are not evenly spread. Large classrooms and other areas of densely packed student population have the potential for periods of intense, localised demand. Features like load balancing, band steering and beamforming give you the ability to cope with this without slowing users down.

5

Security

The security of your wireless network should be under continuous review, and updated regularly. But let’s face it, the likelihood is that the majority of school wireless systems are not up to the latest standards. When upgrading you need to ensure you have the controls you need now, and also what you might need in the future. For example, if the decision is made in six months time to introduce BYOD, will you be able to restrict access to resources and content, and will you be able to guard against potential malicious (or just over curious) hacking attempts?

6

Consider Wireless 11AC Wave 2

Wireless 11AC Wave 2 has the potential for some extremely impressive performance, but a decision to move to it is not that straightforward. Read our blog post on this subject.

7

Access

It’s great having a state-of-the-art wireless network, giving blistering fast performance, even at peak load. But don’t overlook the ability for the user to be able to access the tools and resources they need from whatever device they happen to be using. Consider an education portal like CSE’s Magellan that will make accessing everything easier.



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