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Prince George's CC and Alabama A&M Upgrade Wireless with Aruba

Two institutions of higher education--one in Maryland and the other in Alabama--have chosen to deploy Aruba Networks wireless equipment to keep pace with student demand. Prince George’s Community College in Largo, MD has put in place an 802.11n network to address the needs of 40,000 students and 2,000 staff and faculty. Alabama A&M University in Huntsville is following a three-stage process to achieve wireless ubiquity across campus for 5,200 students and 1,000 faculty and staff.

At Prince George's the Technology Services organization chose Aruba's AP-105, AP-124, and AP-125 access points. In the future, the college may also implement Aruba's guest network access appliance Amigopod.

"Our faculty was demanding more wireless capabilities in the classroom. Apple demonstrated to the nursing faculty all of the incredible student tools available for iPads, iPods, and iPhones. We needed to move to a truly cutting edge solution to deliver digital content across the campus," said Manuel Arrington, director of network service and telecommunications. "Our students now have the capability at all our locations to access rich digital content via our wireless network."

Alabama A&M recently completed phase one of its network upgrade, which focused on improving wireless access to its 10 residence halls. Phase two, expected to be done in August, will focus on academic buildings. Phase three, scheduled to be finished by the end of the year, will carry wireless to all outdoor common areas on the campus.

According to CIO Greg Marrow, a primary goal for the upgrade is to give students better wireless performance than they have at home no matter what device they're using. The deployment encompasses Aruba's 6000 Mobility Controller and about 260 Aruba AP-105 access points.

Both institutions are using Aruba's AirWave, which provides centralized management and monitoring of both the wired and wireless networks.

"We probably see about 1,000 clients on the network during peak times," said Marrow. "It was critical that we be able to deliver reliable coverage for students, who are among the most demanding users and who want to connect with the devices they bring with them from home. The Aruba Network solution is easy to deploy and manage, delivers great performance, and with AirWave, we can keep track of and manage all the new mobile devices hitting the network. This benefits our students, as well as our IT department."

The university is currently conducting a pilot deployment of iPads. Faculty are using the tablets to upload course materials to the learning management system in real-time during class, so students can access them immediately. The presentations are transmitted wirelessly and displayed on classroom interactive boards, which eliminates the need for projectors. Marrow pointed out that in the current pilot, the speed of the wireless connection is actually better than the wired network connection previously used.

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a former senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal, Campus Technology and Spaces4Learning.

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