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Wireless Networks Thread, Wireless vs Cabled in Technical; My school is going to transfer to Academy status in September and a new building will be available in 2010. ...
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    Wireless vs Cabled

    My school is going to transfer to Academy status in September and a new building will be available in 2010.

    I have been asked to prepare a short paper on the pros and cons of going wireless throughout the new building and reducing cabled infrastructure to a bare minimum (ICT suites & specialist spaces only?).

    My main concerns are:

    1. Suitability of a wireless solution for video streaming, media rich activities, etc.

    2. Future-proofing - will wireless be able to handle everything that comes along?

    3. Health & safety - high density of wireless devices/access points in such close proximity

    Would appreciate any comments.

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    pros
    more flexibility

    cons
    wireless devices are worse value than fixed devices
    wireless technology is rapidly evolving
    wireless is less stable
    wireless requires more maintenance time

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    JaseO (15th May 2008)

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    joe90bass's Avatar
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    The health & safety aspect of wireless i.e. does it fry kids brains, is still very much personal viewpoint as there is no evidence that it does!

    From my experience wireless is not as reliable as wired connections. A new wired install will likely be cat 6 and you've got up to 1gig bandwidth should you need it. Wireless is not up to that (yet!) and even if it does get there it's always going to be limited by inteference, walls, distance, number of devices etc

    For me it's wired wherever possible!

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    ChrisH's Avatar
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    I always use a wired connection unless it just is not practicle. It saves a lot of problems.

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    We put a whole school wireless network in over Easter this year, but this is used as well as a wired network. Wireless is not reliable enough to replace wired imo.
    Wireless is slower (in most cases) than wired so if you try and do lots of streaming or run high bandwidth apps then it will struggle (especially if you have a whole class trying to do it)

    We took a lot of advice on the health & safety of wireless and found lots of studies which said there was nothing to worry about. BECTA back this up too

    I would say by all means put wireless in but don't use it as your main network connectivity.

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    enjay's Avatar
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    IMHO, wireless is a suitable way of providing connectivity to mobile devices, and should remain limited to that realm. Any fixed location / desktops PCs should be wired, including the use of docking stations for any teacher laptops. With an ever-increasing use of online applications and media-rich content, the speed of wireless is just not suitable to the demands of the near-future.

    Rather than putting APs in the classrooms, I think you'd be better off spending the money on gig switches for the comms cabinets, that way you'll be nice and future-proof.

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    Quote Originally Posted by joe90bass View Post
    A new wired install will likely be cat 6 and you've got up to 1gig bandwidth should you need it.
    You can of course run gig down Cat5 too...

    Quote Originally Posted by joe90bass View Post
    Wireless is not up to that (yet!) and even if it does get there it's always going to be limited by inteference, walls, distance, number of devices etc
    Don't forget that wired will be much faster by then, too, (10gig to the desk, anyone?!) so wireless speeds will never catch up with wired.

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    As far as I am aware, nobody has yet done any scaled up research into the health effects of having a high density of low powered microwave radiation in a relatively small confined space (ie a school with 1000+ wireless devices).

    I believe the BECTA advice is (or was) to consider wireless as a complementary networking solution to wired, not a replacement. In my view this translates to using wired for fixed devices and wireless for mobile; of course if the 'solution' involves 'personal' devices for everyone then wireless may be the only way.

    Might it be the real reason new builds are so keen on wireless is because it is a lot cheaper?

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    Quote Originally Posted by JaseO View Post
    My school is going to transfer to Academy status in September and a new building will be available in 2010. I have been asked to prepare a short paper on the pros and cons of going wireless throughout the new building and reducing cabled infrastructure to a bare minimum (ICT suites & specialist spaces only?).
    Sounds feasible, if the wireless is done [i]properly[/] - i.e. with the sort of wireless system that costs around the £20,000 mark. Any wireless system is going to be best limited to those who need to use it - you might as well use a wired connection if there's one available. I don't get what the problem would be in simply running stacks of cabling around a new building - surely that just gets shoved in as standard these days?

    Future-proofing - will wireless be able to handle everything that comes along?
    By 2010, I imagine Wireless N will be out of "draft" status and there'll be something else along. Might want to budget for an upgrade after 5 years?

    --
    David Hicks

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    Quote Originally Posted by dhicks View Post
    I don't get what the problem would be in simply running stacks of cabling around a new building - surely that just gets shoved in as standard these days?
    As Broc correctly points out, it's all about money - the idea to go wireless is being driven by the building contractor who clearly sees this as a way of reducing his costs.

    I'm wondering if there are any new schools that have gone wireless only? A while back I heard of one BSF example that did this a couple of years ago and then had to retro fit cabling at substantial cost, but can't remember which school that was.

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    Quote Originally Posted by NickJones View Post
    You can of course run gig down Cat5 too...


    Don't forget that wired will be much faster by then, too, (10gig to the desk, anyone?!) so wireless speeds will never catch up with wired.
    Indeed you are correct

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    wireless, bad for multicast, no network boot for virtually any device. Thats apart from all the slow etc issues.

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    Quote Originally Posted by JaseO View Post
    As Broc correctly points out, it's all about money - the idea to go wireless is being driven by the building contractor who clearly sees this as a way of reducing his costs.

    I'm wondering if there are any new schools that have gone wireless only? A while back I heard of one BSF example that did this a couple of years ago and then had to retro fit cabling at substantial cost, but can't remember which school that was.
    seems daft, ina new build it should be easy to lay lots of cables in trunking and hidden columns. It will probably reduce costs on there part,but the equipment to use it will cost you lots more and will still not give the same performance.

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    I don't think you should view it as either - or.
    A wireless network should be there to support a wired infrastructure, wireless provides additional functionality but it shouldn't be viewed as a replacement.

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    Quote Originally Posted by broc View Post
    As far as I am aware, nobody has yet done any scaled up research into the health effects of having a high density of low powered microwave radiation in a relatively small confined space (ie a school with 1000+ wireless devices).


    Might it be the real reason new builds are so keen on wireless is because it is a lot cheaper?
    We do know what happens with much higher powered radio because we've been using it for more than 80 years - there's no reason to believe it will cause harm. It's far more likely that mobile phones will cause harm (much closer to the brain and inverse square law makes that worse) but even there it's likely that you need a massive amount of exposure. Given that a lot of kids probably spend more time texting than talking I'm not sure how much of an issue even mobile phones are. that's not to say we should just say "no danger, guv", and carry on but I don't think we're going to see problems (famous last words :-))

    A good wireless system won't be much cheaper than wired although there are some real rip-off prices charged for cabling (but I'd guess the same is true for wireless network installs)

    We are putting in wireless more or less everywhere but it's not intended to be the "main" way of connecting - it's just to give flexibility.

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