Tuning in to Wireless

Things to remember when taking your campus wireless

Gary LandauGary Landau is director of network services at Loyola Marymount University (CA), where he is responsible for leading the school’s network infrastructure and telecom teams to support voice and data communications. No one is more tuned in to wireless these days than Landau, because LMU is now in the process of completing a campuswide wireless network of nearly 400 access points (APs). Landau hopes that the university can leverage wireless connectivity to help students and faculty innovate, and he knows that careful planning of the wireless network can make all the difference. Here, he shares his Top 10 things to remember when taking your campus wireless.

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You can migrate from ‘hot spots’ to campuswide wireless service.

  • Starting small—with hot spots—will meet the service need while giving you time to plan carefully.
  • Still, hot spots should only be considered a temporary solution.

Keep in mind that your site survey...

  • ...is a primary planning and budgeting tool.
  • ...is critical to determining the types of APs and infrastructure you’ll need.
  • ...still may not show all the holes in signal coverage.

You have choices to make regarding indoor vs. outdoor connectivity requirements.

  • Using a mesh network for outside areas may not be practical or necessary.
  • Some buildings and residences may actually require placing APs outdoors to provide indoor coverage.

Interference from neighbors can create obstacles.

  • You must be able to adapt around a neighboring network’s wireless channels.
  • Proactive rogue AP detection and prevention need to allow for neighboring wireless use.

You should architect the network with security needs in mind.

  • Design your architecture so that your internal network isn’t exposed to unauthenticated wireless traffic.
  • Choose authentication and encryption that will be compatible with common platforms in your community.

Plan the scope of wireless for future applications.

  • Build in enough capacity for the possibility of adding VoIP phones and new applications.
  • In order to support roaming and campuswide location tracking, cover remote areas like parking lots.

Have user instructions available early.

  • If you broadcast secure service set identifiers (SSIDs), people will try to connect to them and will get frustrated if they don’t have configuration instructions available.
  • Use web links, e-mails, and handouts to instruct clients to configure their laptops.

You’ll need good third-party management software.

  • You’ll want a single point of control to monitor users and devices, configure infrastructure, and diagnose problems.
  • You may need a system that will work in both single- and multivendor environments (such as AirWave’s Management Platform).

Get more value from the network.

  • Create wireless-enabled labs and lounges for student collaboration.
  • Encourage the use of wireless laptops in the classrooms.

Budget more than you think you’ll need!

  • As you uncover holes in coverage that were not identified in the site survey, you may need more APs than you planned.
  • Build in plans to upgrade to new standards.
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