Higher Education Wi-Fi networks are expected to provide reliable connectivity and high levels of performance for for all facets campus life, including:
High density, interference, network congestion, coverage issues and a flood of the latest and greatest student-owned devices contribute to a changing environment that makes it difficult to prevent or troubleshoot Wi-Fi issues.
Students, faculty and staff grow increasingly frustrated when they experience network delays and slow throughput because it hampers their ability to teach and learn. IT professionals react to these complaints and waste time and energy chasing down issues all over campus. The usual set of WLAN troubleshooting tools may help isolate and fix issues on a particular day, but do nothing to assure, track and proactively monitor the quality of the Wi-Fi experience for students and faculty moving forward.
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Avans University of Applied Sciences, established in 1812, located in the Netherlands. It is recognized as one of the best major universities of applied sciences in the region with a student enrollment of 28,000 and a staff of 2,000.
“Our WLAN had become a mission critical service for students and staff,” stated Kees Pronk, Network Administrator. “Often during exams and peak hours, I was running scripts on controllers to gather information on how our wireless network was coping with the load. We felt the Wireless LAN equipment and portable tools did not offer the information we needed to really optimize network performance and maintain the users’ quality of experience. We decided we needed to look at complementary solutions and came across 7SIGNAL.”
Avans deployed 7SIGNAL Wi-Fi performance management system and initiated an optimization project for its Student Learning Center. After obtaining a baseline over a few days, 7SIGNAL created an optimization plan consisting of recommended Wireless LAN configuration changes. Avans and 7SIGNAL together implemented five rounds of changes to the Wi-Fi network over three weeks in an effort to substantially elevate the student experience.
After each change, the impact to Avans’ Wi-Fi network was analyzed and verified by the 7SIGNAL software and team of Wi-Fi performance experts. The results showed dramatic Wi-Fi improvements in throughput and other user experience metrics. It was also determined that in a high density Wi-Fi environment, RF automation from the controllers did not always configure the network optimally. Kees Pronk, in commenting on the optimization experience, stated, “Our Wireless LAN was providing reasonable performance, but with the experience and data provided from 7SIGNAL, we found so much opportunity for improvement. I learned during this process that you cannot manage what you cannot measure. Now with 7SIGNAL, we get Wi-Fi performance data continuously. Feedback from our students has been very positive and in social media, we see messages that our Wi-Fi is really fast.”
Avans elected to expand the 7SIGNAL coverage to additional locations in 2 other cities, Hertogenbosch and Tilburg, at similar location study centers with high-density Wi-Fi serving many students. Network device optimization is being repeated by utilizing the data and information from the Learning Center experience. The solution allowed network managers to optimize the different Wi-Fi networks using meaningful metrics reflecting the quality of Wi-Fi experience from the end-user point of view.
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