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U Tennessee Knoxville Nears Completion of Latest Wireless Upgrade

The University of Tennessee at Knoxville is nearing completion of a campus-wide move to 802.11n wireless network using equipment from Aruba Networks. The university began its adoption of wireless in 2001; the latest upgrade was begun to address a burgeoning use of mobile devices on the network--up to 10,000 at a time.

"The number of wireless-capable devices that are showing up on campus is absolutely mind-blowing. It's more than two per person," said Network Architect Philippe Hanset. "This increases the need for IPv6 support, which Aruba offers. Smart phones, even when they are in someone's pocket, will still request an IP address and join any network they can. That tends to exhaust our IP address pools because even if not registered, they take an IP address just to start the conversation. Sometimes we see more than 50 devices on one access point."

"Prior to 802.11n, when wireless was weaker, there was not too much of an incentive to hop on wireless and get rid of your wired connection," Hanset noted. "Today we end up with not only the usual wireless devices, but even things like video surveillance cameras are on the wireless network when people could really use the wired network for it. The 802.11n is a much lower-cost, but high-performance, network."

The university has deployed about 1,900 Aruba 802.11n access points across campus. The last holdout for the latest round of upgrades, the residence halls, which currently run 802.11b/g, are being upgraded to the newer wireless standard. The university has also installed seven Aruba mobility controllers for access point management.

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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