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Wireless Network Upgrades Will Be Top Priority in 2012

Colleges and universities are growing their wireless networks and scaling back on wired LANs, according to findings from a survey released today by Aruba Networks. More than half (51.2 percent) of the nearly 300 United States institutions surveyed characterized the upgrade to 802.11 as a top priority for 2012, while less than a third (28.3 percent) reported wired/Ethernet upgrades as a priority for the coming year.

This growth in WLAN initiatives in higher education is a direct result of the massive influx of mobile devices on campus networks, said Hassan Marvi, director, network operations at American University, in a statement released to the press. The Washington D.C.-based university has an Aruba 802.11n network installed and was among the schools participating in the survey.

"The shift from wired networks to a more mobile-centric network architecture is a focused initiative across higher education today," said Marvi, "given both the decreasing number of devices that have Ethernet ports and the rising frequency with which students and teachers are using tablets and smart phones over even laptops for communications."

Bring-your-own-device (BYOD) initiatives and growing use of multimedia applications are driving demand for ubiquitous wireless on campus. Survey respondents estimated an average 60 percent increase in the number of mobile devices on their campuses this year, over last year. More than a third (38.5 percent) of the surveyed campuses indicated they currently use their WLAN for classroom video.

Additional findings from the report reflect networking priorities, including budget, for the coming year. Forty-nine percent of the surveyed institutions ranked virtualization as a major IT initiative for 2012, while 39.4 percent reported identity and access management as a key priority. Forty-one percent of responding schools said they expect to see an increase in their wireless LAN budgets, compared to only 11.6 percent that said their wired LAN/Ethernet budget would grow.

Nearly 300 higher education information technology professionals across the United States responded to Aruba's survey. Of the 298 respondents, 36.2 percent identified themselves as IT managers, 32.4 percent as engineers/technicians, and 23.9 percent as senior-level executives.

Additional details about the survey can be found on Aruba's site.

About the Author

Kanoe Namahoe is online editor for 1105 Media's Education Group. She can be reached at [email protected].

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