Drexel U Upgrades to Aruba 802.11n Wireless Network

Drexel University has begun deploying an Aruba Networks 802.11n wireless network at its Philadelphia campus. Drexel is replacing its second-generation wireless LAN to gain the improvements in speed and range brought by 802.11n.

"Our side-by-side comparison of different wireless LAN solutions highlighted the value of Aruba's [Adaptive Radio Management] (ARM) technology to guarantee predictable service levels in spite of changes in external interference," said Kenneth Blackney, associate VP of core technology. "ARM simplifies network set-up, provides predictable network access and performance in densely-packed lecture halls, and ensures on-going interference-free coverage. ARM detects access point cells with excessive loading, and automatically spreads the load over adjacent cells to provide more consistent performance levels to our faculty and students."

The ARM technology automates network set-up, survey, and maintenance tasks and continuously optimizes network performance to support data, toll-quality voice, and streaming video applications.

In 2000 Drexel was one of the first major universities to install a fully wireless campus. That was replaced in 2004 when 802.11g became available. The Aruba-based network will involve deployment of about 1,000 dual-radio access points. "DragonFly," as Drexel's upcoming wireless network is known, will serve 40,000 wireless devices at launch with support for 802.11a, 11b, 11g, and 11n. The school will manage the network with Aruba's Multi-Service Mobility Controllers deployed redundantly in three campus data centers.

"Network load will be balanced and reliability will be achieved to the benefit of users, while our IT department will be able to manage the entire distributed infrastructure as a single entity," said Blackney.

Drexel has an enrollment of 21,000 students.

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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