Indiana U Ramps Up Next-Gen Wireless Across 2 Campuses

Indiana University announced that it will shortly begin deploying a new, improved and greatly expanded wireless network on its campuses in Bloomington and Indianapolis. The school will be deploying the HP ProCurve ZL wireless system, which was chosen through a competitive bid process.

The university system will replace current wireless hardware--some of which is now more than six years old--and expand coverage areas greatly, especially in the Bloomington residence halls.

"IU has waited to invest in a path to the next generation of very fast wireless capability," said Brad Wheeler, VP for IT and CIO "With this massive upgrade, we vastly enlarge our wireless coverage including residence halls, refresh to leading edge equipment, and have a full path to the 802.11N standard when it is officially ratified later this year."

The new protocol will give users potential access speeds of up to 100Mbps or greater.

"Our current wireless deployment in the IU Bloomington residence halls covers only common areas and lounges," said Matt Davy, chief network architect "We will expand to cover nearly all of the residence halls; this means coverage in every student room, as well as all common areas. To give you an idea of the scale, we currently have a total of about 1,200 access points for the entire Bloomington campus. We will be adding 2,700 new access points just in the residence halls."

HP's pricing is being made available to IU's regional campuses, which can upgrade to the new wireless network on their own timelines. The Kokomo campus is planning a fall deployment of its new wireless network that will cover all academic and office areas for fall, replacing the relatively small network currently available.

The university said the broader IU community as well as IU affiliates and guests will find it easier to connect securely to the IU network and the Internet. The new HP system uses the WPA2 Enterprise standard--also referred to as 802.1x--to replace VPN (virtual private networking) as the means for securely accessing wireless networks.

Davy said, "I've been working in our test environment for several months, and I can tell you, once you use WPA2 Enterprise, you'll never want to use VPN to connect to wireless again."

The UI technology services staff will begin installing the new hardware in May, with plans to have most new access points installed at the two main campuses in the fall semester.

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal and Campus Technology. She can be reached at dian@dischaffhauser.com or on Twitter @schaffhauser.

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