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West Chester U Tackles Student Demand for WiFi in Campus Housing

West Chester University
Photo: Business Wire

With more than 5,000 residential students clamoring for more WiFi access, Pennsylvania's West Chester University is rolling out an Aruba 802.11ac wireless network across every campus housing facility, with the goal of turning the majority of its dormitories and student apartments into all-wireless environments by the fall 2014 semester.

While newer student housing at WCU was designed with WiFi in mind, older buildings have relied on wired connections. "We noticed that students were bringing routers from home into the older, wired dorms and the proximity of all of these routers caused numerous interference issues," said Richard Chan, assistant director, networking and telecommunications for the university, in a press release. "Our students were really relying on wireless connectivity not just for basic Internet and e-mail access for course work, but also for access to online courses and distance learning, plus social media and HD video streaming. We realized the right approach was to equip all of the existing dorms with ultra-fast WiFi and ensure that all of the new dorms were all-wireless from the ground up."

Going wireless is also saving the university some major cash, noted Chan: "By eliminating cabling costs and going all-wireless in some of the buildings, we've been able to realize over $1 million in total cost savings. That made cutting the cord a simple choice."

WCU is using Aruba's 802.11ac AP-220 Series access points for both indoor and outdoor coverage of the student housing areas; AirWave Network Management; and the ClearPass Access Management System for on-boarding and registering devices.

With the WiFi rollout for student housing, the university will have wireless coverage across 95 percent of its campus, according to Chan. WCU was already using Aruba 802.11n AP-135 and 134 access points and Mobility Access Switches to cover its academic and administrative areas, and Chan expects to eventually move to 802.11ac and all-wireless for the entire campus.

"Since we recently upgraded many campus buildings to 802.11n and that network is operating well, we won't be changing this immediately," he noted. "However, I definitely see our student housing deployment giving us the confidence to move toward an all-wireless campus in the future."

About the Author

About the author: Rhea Kelly is editor in chief for Campus Technology. She can be reached at [email protected].

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