On the perfect college campus everyone would have super-fast, reliable and secure wireless access.
No matter where you went, what devices or applications you were using, or how many users were on the network, everyone would always have the perfect wireless experience.
While nothing is ever perfect, college IT leaders are still going to try and deliver it, unfortunately there's a lot of challenges along the way.
There are 6 main challenges that every college IT department will have to overcome when deploying a successful campus wireless network.
Schools today are extremely dense and diverse environments; they are living and breathing systems that ebb and flow. In order to support everyone and everything IT leaders need to make sure their wireless platform was designed for capacity.
Many times we see mistakes happen that result in poor performing networks because decisions were made either because of inexperience and/or lack of knowledge.
Capacity means having context which means understanding a lot more than just coverage. Capacity addresses:
How many devices are accessing the network
What types of devices are there
What are the capabilities of those devices
What types of applications are being used
How many users are accessing the network
What locations on your campus are seeing the most activity
Watch the Video to Learn More About Capacity
This is the most obvious and typically most straightforward challenge that colleges and universities have to deal with when designing their wireless networks.
Where do you need to provide wireless access? This can include: academic buildings, dorms, athletic facilities and numerous outdoor spaces.
You have to understand where your mission-critical areas on campus are and plan for them accordingly to ensure you have proper coverage.
Again, your success will come down to the quality of your WLAN design and which wireless service provider you choose to partner with.
When was the last time you refreshed your wireless network? If you answer is more than 4 years ago, you're way overdue for an update.
The effective lifespan of today's wireless platforms is between 3 and 4 years, that's it. This is due to the pace at which devices, applications, security threats, and even our physical environments are evolving.
Beyond the 3-4 year range and it becomes challenging to maintain needed wifi performance levels and the required reliability you and your end-users have become accustomed to.
This is the reality and so is the cost associated with upgrading your wireless network. It's not cheap and figuring out how to afford everything isn't an easy task to accomplish.
Knowing what you need from an IT perspective is one thing, getting a budget approved to actually pay for it is another.
Think about your school's Wi-Fi platform as a utility, like water or electricity. It’s not a luxury to have, it's a mission-critical "utility" that enables the modern day learning and recreational environments.
There are many options out there to afford the WLAN platform your school requires every 4 years, including even financing it with monthly payments.
If you can't see what's going on, there's no reliable way to know how both your wireless platform and the end-users, devices and applications it's supporting are performing.
We can say it until the cows come home, technology is only going to get better, faster, and more diverse.
Your campus's WLAN design and entire wireless platform need to be able to adapt to new devices, applications, prevent security threats, and perform critical system updates to ensure reliability, performance and security throughout your entire campus.
The most important thing you can do to create a successful, campus-wide network is to start with proper planning. By establishing clearly defined goals and working with the right wireless service provider, you can guarantee your campus Wi-Fi network will support today’s challenges as well as be ready to take on whatever lies ahead.
At SecurEdge, we deliver affordable, robust, and secure wireless platforms – it’s all we do. If you have any questions about your current campus Wi-Fi network or would like to discuss an upcoming project, please contact us here.
*Editor's note: This blog post was originally posted May 2015 and has been completely revamped and updated for thoroughness and accuracy.