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Ryerson U Upgrades and Expands Network with 802.11ac

Ryerson University in Toronto is installing 802.11ac wireless networking in its new Ted Rogers School of Management and is upgrading many of its existing access points to the new technology.

The university's IT department decided to upgrade and expand the WiFi network to support the proliferation of wireless devices and applications on campus. As with many universities, Ryerson has seen a significant increase in the number of mobile devices accessing its network, hitting peaks of 15,000 concurrent connections. Other demands on the network include student use of online video for both personal and educational purposes, transition from analog and digital phones to wireless voice over IP (VoIP) phones as well as other administrative tools such as wireless cash registers and asset tracking.

The IT team also said it wanted to improve wireless coverage. "Currently, we have 90-95 percent wireless coverage across our campus," said Mourad Michael, assistant director of communications infrastructure for Ryerson. "We'd like to get to 100 percent and cover some of the current 'dead zones' such as a few green areas on campus where students like to convene and need access."

Another challenge facing the university's WiFi network is its location in downtown Toronto. "Our campus is surrounded by high-rise buildings," said Michael in a prepared statement. "As a result, we're frequently plagued by signals and rogues from all over campus and the surrounding area. Secure and reliable coverage is critical in this kind of environment."

Ryerson's existing WiFi network used technology from Aruba Networks, and the IT department decided to stick with the company for the upgrade and expansion. The university has already deployed more than 250 Aruba AP-225 802.11ac access points throughout the new three-story business school. By the time the deployment is complete, the university will have 1,000 Aruba AP-225 access points, primarily in the business school, but some will also replace older model Aruba APs in other campus locations. According to information on the company's site, 802.11ac technology is faster, more secure and more energy efficient, and it provides better coverage even for 802.11n devices.

In addition to the Aruba AP-225 access points, the university's network also includes a mix of Aruba AP-135 and AP-105 access points, Aruba Mobility Controllers, the AirWave Network Management System and Aruba Remote Access Points for departments with remote and virtual offices. The university has created user roles for students to restrict network access to resources, groups and applications based on the students' department. In the future, the university plans to add Aruba's ClearPass Access Management System and AirGroup technology to assist with onboarding mobile devices and managing Apple Bonjour traffic.

According to information released by the company, Ryerson's Aruba network uses ClientMatch technology that "matches mobile devices to the best possible access point each time they connect." The company reported that "802.11n devices in the school have achieved speeds of up to 600 Mbps, and 802.11ac clients are expected to experience speeds of up to 800 Mbps, once the network is in full production."

Ryerson University is a public research university specializing in career-focused education. The university is located in downtown Toronto, Canada. It serves more than 30,000 students and employs 2,700 faculty and staff.

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