University of AZ Wireless Voice-Data LAN Deployment Hits Milestone

The University of Arizona (UA) has completed two major phases of its wireless LAN deployments for voice and data, according to the company managing the project. Today, UA's wireless network--dubbed UAWiFi--spans more than 7 million square feet, 4,500 wireless access points, and 22 buildings. Upon completion, the initiative, which is being managed by systems integrator NEC Unified Solutions and using Cisco equipment, will comprise more than 6,000 access points and 12 million square feet on two campuses.

The network has more than 19,000 WLAN devices connected at any given time and has scaled to more than 53,000 during peak times.

Based on desires expressed by university students, the campus IT staff embarked on the effort in 2006 to provide wireless LAN-based voice and data access. Using student survey data as backup, the University IT Services department obtained support for a student service fee from students, administrators and Board members to fund the project.

"Access to cutting-edge technology is a key factor in attracting and retaining students at the university level," said Michele Norin, UA CIO. "NEC's ability to manage our VoIP network turnkey, meet our aggressive deployment schedule, and install and service Cisco equipment were our deciding factors. We believe we now have a world-class secure and scalable wireless LAN-based voice and data network for use by students, faculty, staff and visitors alike."

NEC manages the university's wireless project turnkey, including site surveys, cabling infrastructure, vendor and budget management, and deployment of Cisco's wireless solutions. In addition, the vendor is monitoring and managing the university's voice over IP network using its Remote Managed Services via its Network Operations Center in Irving, TX. To date, the company said, the university's wireless network has had a failure rate of less than 1 percent.

The university serves more than 32,000 students in Tucson, AZ.

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a writer who covers technology and business for a number of publications. Contact her at dian@dischaffhauser.com.

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