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Wireless Networks Thread, Stages of wireless adoption - Poll (Kind of) in Technical; Hi all, A friend of mine working in another school chewed my ear off the other day about how his ...
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    Stages of wireless adoption - Poll (Kind of)

    Hi all,

    A friend of mine working in another school chewed my ear off the other day about how his management team wouldn't give him capital to deploy wireless and that he believes 90% of secondary schools out there have a pervasive wireless system. I'd tend to disagree and say that the number would be a lot lower, I would create a poll but not sure how!

    If we say there are 3 options -

    1. no wireless,
    2. basic/limited/low quality wireless (lower end solutions such as netgear)
    3. Enterprise class pervasive wireless

    Would be great to hear from guys at secondary schools in particular as to where you are at?

    Cheers

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    synaesthesia's Avatar
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    Currently 2, looking to move to 2/3. (Not sure where you'd slap Unifi kit - I'd like to say 3 however some people in the game (probably those losing money from not fitting it) would clearly argue that!)

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    hallb15's Avatar
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    I work in a large primary school (724 pupils and 85 staff) and we are somewhere between 2 and 3 using Netgear ProSafe products. 16x WNDAP350s and ProSafe AP-16 wireless manager. For the most part it has been a case of set it up and forget it - works a treat.

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    3s-gtech's Avatar
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    Currently 2, looking to move to 3 this week.

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    twin--turbo's Avatar
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    1st question is why does he want it.

    Laptops are a pain in the neck so push for more fixed I.T.

    2ndly

    we are stage 3.

    Before my time
    1913-1998 no wireless
    in my time
    1998-2003 no wireless (Stage1)
    2003-2008 50 dumb 3Com Access points. (Stage2)
    2008-2011 Cisco LWAP on 4400Wlanc (Stage3a)
    2001-date Meru single channel solution (Stage3b)

    Rob

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    tmcd35's Avatar
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    We're a 800 pupil secondary and firmly in the Stage 2 but might as well be Stage 1 for all the support it gets catagory. We desporately need to move into Stage 3 and think about netbooks, tablets and BYOD. Money's there for a managed WiFi setup if someone could justify it...

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    themightymrp's Avatar
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    Mid to Large secondary (approx. 1300 students) and I'd say we were more stage 2 than 3. No centrally managed solution but Cisco AP 1230/1240's throughout the school giving complete coverage. Using about 36 access points to give no flat spots. It all works great apart from 1) its only 802.11g and 2) each access point is individually configured. Not my choice but you do what you can when cash is available.

    Not prepared for BYOD situations yet, it copes with staff laptops and their day to day work but adding student machines would bring it crashing down

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    broc's Avatar
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    stage 3 Meru with approx 570 laptops

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    Every school I have worked for in the last 10 years has been at stage 3 within a year.

    Trapeze (1:1 in 2003 140 devices total)

    Extreme/Hi-Path (staff 1:1 140 devices, sixth form 1:1 140 devices, yr7-11 120 devices)

    Meru (staff 1:1 120 devices, BYOD 20 devices, yr7-13 150 Devices)

    Each time very much set it up and forget it, except for the crop of dodgy' n' drivers from just about every manufacturer 2009-2011. Teachers and admin staff have the wireless as their default connection, it has had a revolutionary impact on the way they use technology to meet the demands of their roles. Students have started to complain log on takes too long, but they are comparing it to the speed at which a personal tablet becomes ready for use. We are looking at moving to a 1:1 programme which may require some (probably only 10) additional APs in the highest density areas (e.g. the Humanities where they already make heavy use of laptops multimedia and internet sources at present . That said the traffic from 1:1 devices has a completely different profile to that of a shared device, so a proper detailed analysis is needed, and the Senior Team need to **really** understand how 1:1 can be a driver for improving student attainment before that happens)

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    This is all really good stuff thanks guys, aiming for 100 replies so it gives me a good sample size!! Nice to see lots of 2's trying to move to 3's because thats where both me and my friend are right now, maybe i'f my management team knew everyone else was doing it they would let me!!

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    tmcd35's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by petertec View Post
    This is all really good stuff thanks guys, aiming for 100 replies so it gives me a good sample size!! Nice to see lots of 2's trying to move to 3's because thats where both me and my friend are right now, maybe i'f my management team knew everyone else was doing it they would let me!!
    As I alluded to above, the bit we've struggled with here is the rationale for making the change. We can put a managed WiFi in tomorrow, we just wouldn't use it. The starting point is the schools ICT vision. How does the SLT envisage IT being used in the school. If they are looking to go out and purchase loads of laptops, or are looking at 1:1 or BYOD then you have your reason to spend on the wireless infrastructure.

    30k is a lot of money just so teachers can use their laptops wirelessly. Especially when every desk in the school has a hardwired point.

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    Stage 3 for us. Enterprise class Aruba WLAN supporting around 1200 wireless devices.

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    Quote Originally Posted by tmcd35 View Post
    As I alluded to above, the bit we've struggled with here is the rationale for making the change. We can put a managed WiFi in tomorrow, we just wouldn't use it. The starting point is the schools ICT vision. How does the SLT envisage IT being used in the school. If they are looking to go out and purchase loads of laptops, or are looking at 1:1 or BYOD then you have your reason to spend on the wireless infrastructure.

    30k is a lot of money just so teachers can use their laptops wirelessly. Especially when every desk in the school has a hardwired point.
    Yeah same here, I think they are also seeing if BYOD could potentially save them money in the long run in terms of buying in devices. I think it is more of a case of when rather than if though

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    There's are probably 3 or 4 different levels within option 3.

    As tmcd35 points out, you should not be starting with vendor choice first.

    The first point should always be to outline your goals for the WiFi, for now, for 3 years from now and for 5 years from now. What do you want the user experience to be ? Browsing ? Streaming ? Voip ? (determines data rate and throughput). How many devices will you support (determines throughput, capacity and most important, and often overlooked, how many access points you truly need). These and lots of other questions you need to ask, (security, redundancy, manageability...) would give you your overall specification.

    Next is how much money you have to spend overall for a complete solution, to the point where it's signed off. Make a distinction between install cost and running cost.

    Finally, you need to set a date for completion.

    Now, these three points of the project, time, specification and scope, represent three points of a triangle. Slap bang in the middle is the point we call "quality". The closer you get to any one of the points, the more it takes you away from the other two. Quality suffers.

    The trick is to balance the three points and, most impotantly, INSTALL THE SOLUTION THAT WILL MEET YOUR STATED OBJECTIVES FOT THE 1 YR, 3YR AND 5 YR PERIOD.

    Once you determine the specification, budget and cost, and do everything you can to keep each of those equally catered for, you will find some vendors jump out at you, others fall by the wayside.

    You can have basic wifi with very cheap access points, with 802.1x authentication on a single managed vlan and you will be just fine. Cheap, but not feature rich.
    If you want more features, raise the budget. If the budget stops, prioritise the features - for example, do you need a redundant controller or can you live with 24hr downtime while you have a warranty replacemnt ?

    It's all about the planning, get that right and the solution falls into place. Be wary of selecting a particular vendor just because it's a popular choice. WiFi is wiFi, WiFi alliance certified devices are tested and certified as interoperable with other wifi devices. enterprise class equipment (option3 on your list) differentiates by additional feature sets and unique selling points - that's what you pay for, but why would you if you don't need them ? And as has been stated, many people here are running very successful wifi at low cost, precisely as they don't have the need for more advanced features.

    My overall advice to anyone looking at the enterprise class networks is that money spent early on with a neutral, professional WLAN designer/engineer will save you more in the long run - because they will help you get the network that you need to match your objectives.

    NM

  15. Thanks to neilmac from:

    buzzard (17th October 2013)

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    hardtailstar's Avatar
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    We are a large primary school and have a Managed Rukus so about stage 3.

    It supports about 200 laptops, although having said that, we need to upgrade the APs

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