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Northwest Missouri State U Deploys New Wireless Network

Northwest Missouri State University has replaced its legacy wireless network with new technology to support online testing and the rapid increase of online devices on campus.

Like other universities across the country, students at Northwest Missouri State are bringing more and more wireless devices onto campus. On average, students living in campus residences bring between three and five devices each, including laptops, tablets, smartphones and video game consoles. The large number of devices were taxing the university's legacy network. That network was also vulnerable to failure because it relied on a single controller. If that controller went down, it would bring down the entire campus wireless network.

Administrators at the school decided to upgrade to a more reliable wireless network that could support more devices across campus, as well as online testing in the classrooms. After evaluating the options, they decided on a wireless network from Xirrus, with four hundred access points and arrays across campus, and with controller functionality built into each access point and array.

To simplify the deployment process, the university's IT department "created a single standard classroom profile and deployed the profile to all classrooms simultaneously," according to Xirrus. This approach saved the IT team time and manpower, and enabled the university to implement online testing sooner. After successful implementation in the classrooms, the IT team rolled out the new access points and arrays at the Bearcat Arena and other campus facilities.

The Xirrus wireless network now provides coverage to 50 buildings across 90 percent of the campus, including the Bearcat Arena, which seats 2,500 people, and it can support up to 3,000 users simultaneously during peak periods. According to Xirrus, the new network "has supported a 100 percent increase in device connections and connectivity across buildings to date" and has improved the user density and device usage on campus. And Timothy Carlyle, director of network computing at the university, said the network can now support hundreds of of devices simultaneously in a lecture hall.

About the Author

Leila Meyer is a technology writer based in British Columbia. She can be reached at leilameyer@gmail.com.

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