As new technologies enter the higher education space, more and more students and teachers require high-performing Wi-Fi. It’s no longer viable to have drops in service or a network that can’t support video streaming and the range of devices within the Internet of Things (IoT).
University campuses bring unique considerations to network managers. Their network boundaries are often very high density and expansive.
Here are the key components of a successful higher education network and how continuous monitoring helps deliver the best results:
University campuses are full of study nooks and shared spaces where students and teachers collaborate. In our modern world, that cooperation is dependent on high-performing Wi-Fi that makes online and offline learning and research seamless.
Enabling this collaboration means that your wireless network can support a very large network boundary that isn’t limited to classrooms and computer labs. Wi-Fi must extend to lounges, cafes, and workspaces that are everywhere on campus.
Access point placement is a crucial component of ensuring high-performing Wi-Fi across this wide coverage area, as is the correct frequency selection (often, 2.4GHz versus 5GHz). Another solution is to implement wireless bridges, which help extend the signal for larger network coverage.
According to a study conducted by the EDUCAUSE Center for Analysis and Research (ECAR), almost all undergraduate students own either a laptop or smartphone (95 percent), and 30 percent own a laptop, smartphone, and tablet.
The increase of connected equipment on college campuses brings new requirements for wireless networks. Namely, the Wi-Fi must support more types of devices, as well as a higher number of them. Students and professors must be able to stay connected no matter what they’re using.
Mobility is a major consideration for college campuses since there are always mobile and wearable devices entering and exiting the network boundary. In addition, more buildings and housing structures are integrating smart devices—a complex network of appliances that are always transmitting messages across the Wi-Fi.
While not all college classes use streaming, many do—employing real-time video and Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) for the delivery of information. And these technologies require greater network bandwidth.
Within a higher education institution, calls, videos, and live streams should be seamless and without any interruptions or long waiting periods. And network management teams need to be able to monitor what’s going on from the end-user’s perspective. It’s no longer enough to respond to an issue after the fact, once a user has experienced a drop or serious slowdown in service.
Another consideration for higher education campuses is network support for bring your own device (BYOD) programs. Many staff members and professors prefer to use the equipment with which they are most familiar.
This means that staff must ensure that the wireless network can support a wide range of devices. Security measures must also be implemented so that the use of this equipment does not interfere with or pose any risks to the network.
IT managers should make sure that guidelines are clearly implemented and communicated for BYOD policies, the right software is accessible to staff and faculty, and all departments are involved in planning and execution.
While there are many small steps to take to improve a higher education wireless network, there’s one solution that influences them all: wireless network monitoring. Gaining crucial visibility into the network means you can address the coverage and congestion issues that high-density areas bring.
As more and more devices become the norm for students, faculty, and staff, knowing what’s going on with the network at any given moment is a requirement. Mobile Eye and Sapphire Eye from 7SIGNAL offer continuous testing and monitoring so that you can keep an eye on the way a user experiences the Wi-Fi. Problems can thus be addressed before they’re even noticed.
7SIGNAL’s platform helps your team support common campus requirements, including:
7SIGNAL provides the comprehensive solution needed to keep the Wi-Fi performing well—and reaching each and every critical location on campus.
7SIGNAL® is a leader in Wireless Experience Monitoring. The 7SIGNAL platform is a cloud-based Wi-Fi performance management solution that continuously monitors the wireless network for performance issues—maximizing network uptime, device connectivity, remote worker productivity, and network ROI. The platform was designed to support the Wi-Fi management needs of the world’s largest organizations, educational institutions, hospitals, and government agencies. 7SIGNAL continuously monitors the connectivity of over 5 million global devices. Learn more at www.7signal.com.