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The IEEE recently ratified 802.11ac as the new standard in wireless technology. So, get out your checkbooks, it’s time for a school wireless network refresh! Or...maybe not.

802.11ac, school wireless network, 802.11ac speed, With our 8 years of experience providing enterprise-grade security features that parents, students, teachers and administrators would expect, we love the idea of additional throughput!

However, with budget belts getting tighter for school districts on an annual basis, expenditures for mobile technology in the classroom are at risk of being passed over to fund more “mission-critical” items.

K-12 and higher education decision makers are struggling to find the right mix of classroom technology and available funds to fully support it all. The fact is, what you have in place now might support your technology initiatives today, but what about tomorrow?

Here are 5 Benefits of Adding 802.11ac to your School’s Wireless Network:

1. You’re short on staff - Connectivity issues may occur, but how many staff members does it take to resolve an issue. The more-than-likely answer is that you only have one, maybe two that are familiar with the wireless connectivity in the building. The key with the new 802.11ac WLAN technology is that there should be* fewer connectivity issues, and therefore fewer staff (or managed service providers) to handle related issues. (*many mitigating factors like building materials have to be factored into the environment where issues have occurred).

2. Options for connecting devices - 802.11ac is a nice technological upgrade, but when searching for hardware solutions, your options should still include those that are “dual channel”. Dual channel meaning a system that can handle clients utilizing the overcrowded 2.4ghz spectrum as well as the 5ghz spectrum utilized by many of the new low-powered devices. By providing both radios, wireless devices or clients that are built with the 802.11ac chip sets will be able to utilize the 5ghz radio, freeing up bandwidth for the devices that can only connect to 2.4ghz.

3. Improved speed - The new 802.11ac WLAN technology does allow for improved wireless connectivity at a distance. Tests have shown an 802.11n device can connect to an 802.11n access point at 100mps from a distance of 75 feet. Using an 802.11ac access point, this same 802.11n device has been shown to connect at 150mps from the same distance.

4. Better application performance – Since most learning tools are now application-based, it’s helpful to have a network that will fully support the use of multiple applications on multiple devices with multiple operating systems. The higher throughput with 802.11ac technology makes for improved application interaction.

5. Improved Edge Switching – The next one is really a “fringe” benefit to upgrading with 802.11ac, but were probably due to be part of any network refresh discussion. Phase 1 of 802.11ac is offering 600Mbps to 1.3Ghz bandwidth. So, if your current edge switching infrastructure is 10/100, and there are attempts made to introduce the new 802.11ac wireless access points, there is going to be a bottleneck on your wireless network. Be sure to factor in the cost of upgrading your edge switching before going buck wild on purchases of access points with this new technology.

School wireless networks will continue to benefit from the improved technology, but going out and replacing every 802.11n access point for a 100% saturated 802.11ac environment would not necessarily be the best use of your limited funds.

We would love to answer any questions or comments about how 802.11ac can further improve your individual school wireless network, simply contact us here!

802.11ac Network Readiness Checklist, 802.11ac,
Jillian Mourning

Jillian Mourning

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