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Saint Joseph's U Boosts BYOD Support with Upgraded WiFi

Saint Joseph's University (SJU) in Philadelphia, PA, is in the midst of a massive overhaul of its WiFi network. The university has already deployed more than 100 new wireless access points (APs) and plans to install 150 more in the next few months. The improved wireless coverage is intended to provide the university's students, staff, and visitors with faster, higher-capacity WiFi service to support the growing number of mobile devices on campus.

"When BYOD became a bigger concern for us, we realized our legacy network wasn't handling demand as well as needed," said Jim Brady, assistant director of Network Services at the university, in a prepared statement. "We believed it was in the university's best interest for us to undergo due diligence, and we evaluated our options for replacing our legacy system."

The university selected Ruckus Smart WiFi from Ruckus Wireless to replace its legacy WiFi network. When the installation is complete, the new network will include more than 250 Ruckus ZoneFlex 7982 indoor 802.11n 3x3:3 (triple antenna, three-stream) APs. About 30 of the APs will cover the campus housing units, and another 16 will cover the three-story Campion Student Center. The remaining APs will cover academic buildings, administrative offices, and other indoor and outdoor areas of the campus.

All of the Ruckus APs are connect over copper wire to layer-2 switches in the university's wiring closets and then over fiber to the network core located in Barbelin Hall in the middle of campus. The IT team manages the network with Ruckus ZoneDirector 3050 controllers. One is located in Barbelin Hall, with a second one for redundancy, and a third one will be installed to manage the remaining APs throughout campus.

The network includes three separate service set identifiers (SSIDs), or network names. The main one will provide a virtual LAN (VLAN) for students and faculty; a second one will serve for setup and on-boarding of new devices through XpressConnect; and the third one will provide a separate network for guests.

The university is also implementing new Ruckus Secure Hotspot technology that uses a dynamic pre-shared key (PSK) to authenticate and secure users on the university's guest network. Ruckus Secure Hotspot technology dynamically generates strong, unique security key for each authenticated user and automatically installs the encryption keys on client devices. According to the company, dynamic PSK is a simpler alternative to the 802.1x security protocol, which requires manual installation of encryption keys and user credentials.

SJU's IT team handled the entire Ruckus installation themselves in less than a week, following some initial guidance from a Ruckus sales engineer. Since completion of stage 1 in January, the university hasn't had any issues with the new network.

"Students don't know what system they're connecting to, and invariably whenever they complain about poor performance they're connecting through one of our older APs, and when they talk about how great connectivity is, they're linked to a Ruckus AP," said Brady.

Saint Joseph's University is a private Jesuit university located in Philadelphia, PA, with 79 buildings on a 105-acre campus. SJU serves 8,800 undergraduate and graduate students and employs over 1,500 full and part-time faculty and staff.

Further information about Ruckus Smart WiFi can be found at ruckuswireless.com.

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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