Have you ever heard the saying "putting the cart before the horse"? Unfortunately, when it comes to schools and their use of wireless technology, it's something we tend to say a lot.
One of the most common reasons K-12 schools run into wifi problems stems from poor wifi planning.
I know it's easy to get caught up in the excitement of implementing new technology but it's important to take it one step at time so you don't end up making costly mistakes.
Whether your updating your current wireless network, building a new one or simply trying to implement new learning technologies, your success will depend on how well you've prepared.
To help you create the best Wi-Fi plan possible here are three easy steps every K-12 school must-follow.
Involve the right people
Typically, wifi performance problems can be traced back to a lack of communication.
For example, school administrators purchasing new devices such as laptops or tablets before ever checking to see if their current wireless platform could properly support the addition of these new devices.
The intention was good but the planning, or lack their of, will most likely only lead to frustrated students and faculty from devices that don't work properly.
Before buying those new devices your school needs to consult with both the school's IT department as well as an experienced wireless service provider.
A wireless service provider will help you make sure that your current wireless network design is able to properly support whatever new devices or initiatives you're trying to implement, before you actually spend any money or run into performance issues.
Start with a predictive RF design
Designing and planning a large-scale wireless network isn't easy to do, in fact today it's more complicated than ever before.
Whether you're updating an existing WLAN network, starting new or just trying to implement some tablets in your classrooms the Wi-Fi engineering process is the same, and it starts with a predictive RF design.
A predictive RF design or predictive site survey (as its also known), is the first step and most critical step in the entire process as it establishes what's needed (budgetary requirements for equipment/components) for your new wireless platform.
It's important to note that not all predictive RF designs are created equal. To get the best possible results you need to look for a vendor with the right certifications and the right amount of experience.
Know your financing options
Money is always an issue when it comes to budgeting for large-scale wireless networks. Traditionally, paying for your school's wifi comes as a large, one-time capital expense.
The problem is that school wireless networks should be updated every 3 to5 years max—meaning another large investment.
So, how do you pay for your infrastructure needs when you don't have it in the budget?
First, you have to start thinking about Wi-Fi in the same way you think about other utilities such as power and water.
School boards and school administrators would never expect parents to send their kids to a school without electricity or running water and that's how we need to think about wireless—as a utility or monthly expense.
Making a large, one-time capital purchase doesn't make sense when you start to realize how quickly technology changes and how fast your wireless newtork becomes obsolete. Subscriptions offer a variety of benefits over the capital purchasing model. Those benefits include:
- affordable monthly payments
- flexibility to scale as your needs change
- the ability to allocate funds towads other mission-critical projects
- a wireless network that always uses the latest technology and best practices
- and happier, more productive end-users
There are more options than you think, and it's important to understand what's available and what's right for your school.
At SecurEdge, we provide a managed Wi-Fi platform that makes networking more affordable and easier to implement.. If you have any questions or would like to discuss an upcoming project, please contact us here.