WiFi

Northern California College To Deploy 4-Campus 802.11n Network

Northern California's Sierra Community College District is deploying 802.11n high-speed WiFi and remote access point (RAP) technology in the district's four campuses. The Sierra Community College District serves 20,000 students at the 300-acre campus of Sierra College in Rocklin, 115-acre Nevada County Campus in Grass Valley, and smaller campuses in Truckee and Roseville. Once completed, the new network will include about 230 802.11n access points, redundant master controllers, and multiple remote controllers.

The District launched a review of possible wireless solutions following a survey in which students, faculty, and staff identified wireless access as the highest priority for enhancing the overall college experience. The objective was to provide ubiquitous wireless coverage across all buildings at the four campuses, and open spaces at the Rocklin and Grass Valley sites.

A previous legacy wireless system provided partial coverage at three of the campuses. Students paid a token fee for access, which supported Internet-only traffic.

"Prior to selecting a vendor for the project, we reviewed our current data and future WiFi phone, video surveillance, and guest access requirements," said Gary Moser, chief technology officer. "A high-speed 802.11n network with flexible guest access provisioning was deemed essential for our purposes. Since the new multi-campus network was to be centrally managed from the Rocklin campus, a high-security remote networking capability was also needed to support the other disparately located campuses."

Once the specifications had been defined, the district secured funding from the technology endowment of the Sierra College Foundation, a non-profit organization that raises money to support students and college programs.

With the specifications and funding in place, the district started its review of available single and multi-channel wireless LANs and remote networking solutions. "We selected Aruba's adaptive WiFi solution because it delivered the best performance and failover capability, while its remote access point technology was unmatched for security and ease of use," said Moser. "Additionally, Aruba was the only vendor whose guest access feature offered the level of granularity we needed and could also be provisioned by our administrative staff."

"The combination of centralized management, [policy-enforcement firewall], and RAP allows us to support all of our remote users with minimal IT overhead and without compromising security," he explained. "The new network will have full accountability for, and auditing of, who uses the network, when it is used, and what it's used for."

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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