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Wireless Networks Thread, Wireless Network (outdoors) - Big Investment - Which Company? in Technical; Our school is planning to enable the use of PE department laptops out on the field for registration purposes. We ...
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    Wireless Network (outdoors) - Big Investment - Which Company?

    Our school is planning to enable the use of PE department laptops out on the field for registration purposes. We may buy some mini PC devices for convenience, but that is an aside. Options for smart phone/PDA devices have been tested and found to be unreliable. Therefore it's extending the wireless networking we are looking at.

    We have fair sized grounds, and would be looking to add to our existing 20 or so Cisco access points, with devices that had directional outdoor antenna. Our existing system security is based around only WPA encryption. There is no authentication security. This has been done because of budget constraints. This leaves me a bit uncomfortable, especially if we are now talking about beaming our signals out into the fields!

    We are looking for a competent company, with schools experience, to advise up on a) What equipment we need for outdoor coverage, b) Security implications, and c) so supply and fit any agreed solution.

    If you have any experience here, please could you advise and also possibly recommend companies. We are in the Watford area.

    Edit: even though we are an RM network, I am loathe to ask them, as they always seem to charge huge prices for everything, and are not very 'flexible'.
    Last edited by hathor; 19th May 2008 at 09:34 AM.

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    plexer's Avatar
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    You wouldn't want a directional antenna outside if you are trying to cover the field.

    Have you thought about a 3g internet modem or similar? You could possibly have a laptop with one of these and that could then share it via an access point to other teachers laptops on the field.

    I'd look up some networking companies in your area and get them in otherwise you need to talk to people like react techologies, lever etc...

    Ben

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    Will you have one particular place that will be your 'registration' point?

    We are thinking similar here. I was going to use a point-to-point that goes from main building to 'pavillion' and then have a AP inside. It would be a case of simply switching it on as and when needed. You can set a schedule in the AP just in case it gets left on, or even connect it to a timer switch so it defo goes off at the end of the day. Although, we're lucky as we're set in 200 acres with not a lot around really.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ben_Stanton View Post
    Will you have one particular place that will be your 'registration' point?

    We are thinking similar here. I was going to use a point-to-point that goes from main building to 'pavillion' and then have a AP inside. It would be a case of simply switching it on as and when needed. You can set a schedule in the AP just in case it gets left on, or even connect it to a timer switch so it defo goes off at the end of the day. Although, we're lucky as we're set in 200 acres with not a lot around really.
    The head of IT seems to want blanket coverage of the school fields, as there is no specific registration point. As regards the timer, we may be using Power Over Ethernet, and so time switches would not be an option. Our Cisco access points do not seem to have time settings. This alongside only WPA security is steering me towards centralised security/management.

    Although there are no large volumes of houses right outside the boundary walls, it cannot be absolutely clear that the signal will not go to undesirable places. Obviously someone in the car park could probably already be in range, but the increasing range ups the ante as it were.

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    button_ripple's Avatar
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    You could tell the WAPS which MAC addresses to allow to connect to the Points, therefore you will not recieve any unwanted visitors, or try a non-broadcasting network with a different SSID to the rest of your site!

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    Try Opti-Networks - "insist" they send Steven Spencer - 0870 121 7616

    This is right in his ball-park.

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    Ben_Stanton's Avatar
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    Oh right, didn't realise you were going to lay a cable to the field. Not an option here, hence the P2P.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ben_Stanton View Post
    Will you have one particular place that will be your 'registration' point?

    We are thinking similar here. I was going to use a point-to-point that goes from main building to 'pavillion' and then have a AP inside. It would be a case of simply switching it on as and when needed.
    Try this: Get the Solwise 85mbps wifi homeplug device and stick it in a locked box in your pavilion. This looks like a wallwart psu with an antenna on top.
    Connect the pavilions' 240v supply to another homeplug adapter back at the main school power distro board - jumper this to main school network infrastructure.
    When pavilion WiFi is needed, just plug the wifi adapter into an available mains socket and blam - instant wireless!
    I've used homeplug on links to temp classrooms 150m from the school, much easier than a wifi bridge in all respects.

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    Quote Originally Posted by hathor View Post
    Our school is planning to enable the use of PE department laptops out on the field for registration purposes. We may buy some mini PC devices for convenience, but that is an aside. Options for smart phone/PDA devices have been tested and found to be unreliable. Therefore it's extending the wireless networking we are looking at.

    We have fair sized grounds, and would be looking to add to our existing 20 or so Cisco access points, with devices that had directional outdoor antenna. Our existing system security is based around only WPA encryption. There is no authentication security. This has been done because of budget constraints. This leaves me a bit uncomfortable, especially if we are now talking about beaming our signals out into the fields!

    We are looking for a competent company, with schools experience, to advise up on a) What equipment we need for outdoor coverage, b) Security implications, and c) so supply and fit any agreed solution.

    If you have any experience here, please could you advise and also possibly recommend companies. We are in the Watford area.

    Edit: even though we are an RM network, I am loathe to ask them, as they always seem to charge huge prices for everything, and are not very 'flexible'.

    If you have SIMS or Bromcom you can use Moblile Phone SIM cards in a PDA to take register and upload it... without any need for any network being installed or extended...

    Work out the cost of the Wireless network and work out the cost of the Mobile PDa and you'll see it's a lot cheaper and easier to use the Mobile PDA

    Love your Edit... speaks volumes about the future of ICT in Schools..
    Last edited by Grommit; 20th May 2008 at 10:43 AM.

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    plexer's Avatar
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    button_ripple: mac address lists and non broadcasting of ssid's adds no security against anyone that knows what they are doing.

    Yes it would stop the casual person but I still wouldn't rely on it.

    Ben

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    Quote Originally Posted by stevehead View Post
    Try this: Get the Solwise 85mbps wifi homeplug device and stick it in a locked box in your pavilion.
    I would guess that this would require both sockets to be on the same electrical phase as each other.

    I would have thought (based on local PE teachers) that the whole scheme has about as much chance of working as the famous cat-in-a-hot-place. They'll forget to take device out to the field, they'll put it down in a muddy puddle, or demonstrate pole-vaulting with it in their pocket.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Andrew_C View Post
    I would guess that this would require both sockets to be on the same electrical phase as each other.
    Well.. usually. In my experience some electrical circuits allow Homeplug signals to jump phases entirely, and some are 99% isolated. It depends on whether the system has high pass filtering, and you don't really know 'till you try.

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    Wireless

    Quote Originally Posted by hathor View Post
    Our school is planning to enable the use of PE department laptops out on the field for registration purposes. We may buy some mini PC devices for convenience, but that is an aside. Options for smart phone/PDA devices have been tested and found to be unreliable. Therefore it's extending the wireless networking we are looking at.

    We have fair sized grounds, and would be looking to add to our existing 20 or so Cisco access points, with devices that had directional outdoor antenna. Our existing system security is based around only WPA encryption. There is no authentication security. This has been done because of budget constraints. This leaves me a bit uncomfortable, especially if we are now talking about beaming our signals out into the fields!

    We are looking for a competent company, with schools experience, to advise up on a) What equipment we need for outdoor coverage, b) Security implications, and c) so supply and fit any agreed solution.

    If you have any experience here, please could you advise and also possibly recommend companies. We are in the Watford area.

    Edit: even though we are an RM network, I am loathe to ask them, as they always seem to charge huge prices for everything, and are not very 'flexible'.
    I represent a company and our software is compatible on PDAs, laptops ... the software works fine HOWEVER I have seen schools spend alot of money on hardware yet the biggest issue in many schools is staff using them outdoors and many times, it's more of a man management issue that IT. Old builds are not great for wireless and the downtime compared to networked hardware is poor.

    Much of this will depend on ergonomics and if there is a budget issue then I would recommend that you try putting a networked PC into a PE room / office and getting feedback from teachers taking the registers first before you spend 'loads a money!' Also if you can get PE teachers to take registers or use laptops, generally it will be at the end of the class or when they get an opportunity in the day.

    Not sure what other schools reackon about this; I work in a fair few so tend to see this issue quite alot.

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