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Wireless Networks Thread, Completely Wireless????? in Technical; I have been asked by a Primary School of the possibility of going completely wireless, has anyone here done this, ...
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    KWestos's Avatar
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    Completely Wireless?????

    I have been asked by a Primary School of the possibility of going completely wireless, has anyone here done this, if so, how's it going?

    The school in question is very forward thinking and have just come back from Australia and they want to use some of their ideas in the school.

    Their plan (over the next 3 years) is to have every child with a netbook etc. And be able to take lessons from anywhere within the building. I could go on, but that's about the crux of it.

    So I would appreciate any information if anyone's tried it.

    Many thanks

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    tmcd35's Avatar
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    I have to admit I try to avoid laptops and wireless like the plague. But then I really can't afford the equipment to make it work properly.

    On the laptop side you have to solve the following problems...

    • Battery Life
    • Charging
    • Breakages
    • Keyboards be desamated


    On the network side you need to look into and implement the following...

    • Managed Wi-Fi (Heard good reports on Ruckus and 3Com)
    • Multiple SSID's and VLAN's
    • RADIUS server


    Whatever you do don't try cutting corners and thinking '1 cheap AP per classroom' because it doesn't work. Even with staggering loggons past 20 laptops to 1 AP kills the wireless bandwidth. And don't think multiple AP's in 1 room to get around that problem, because it doesn't work like that. All laptops will connect to the same strongest AP first and only when it's overloaded and the laptop hasn't got a response in about 1 minute will it switch and try the next strongest. This is why a properly managed WiFI network is a must.

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    p858snake's Avatar
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    You would need a very good managed wireless system.

    Although a 100% wireless system would never be ideal, for example when/if classes do anything involving multimedia (such as video/imge editing, photo story, stop motion ect) but for most of the things that a primary do such as web and word processing it should be fine.

    Also think about profiles and their sizes as well, eg, if teachers were to have big roaming profiles that it would cause issues with speed.

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    dwhyte85's Avatar
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    We're in the process of doing this, annually adding a year group to all have netbooks.

    We're at year Y7 & Y12 & Y13 at the moment, we were initially using LinkSys points which... were doing the job... but with areas that were heavily populated, for instance the library, study room & VI form common room it would continually drop and it was getting very awkward as 100 people connecting nearby would cause issues which couldn't always be resolved - hence you giving me a call about Ruckus on behalf of Simon to explain it all.

    Dependant on how many laptops you have you then need to worry about security of storing the netbooks, we have a locked area within a canteen with metal garage-like shutters that come down at the end of the day. You then have to worry about charging, we had to have another ring* put in at some cost - this was for 130 laptops charging at the same time. It was hilarious when the premises/facilities staff said it was good to go, we turned them on and most of the rooms lost power.

    Maintenance of netbooks is awkward, hard to change parts, hard to get parts and we have found Samsung to be particularly awkward in obtaining any support when in warranty and being told to contact a company that doesn't exist or at least answer its phone or reply to e-mails for non-warranty/out of warranty issues!

    Like already said (and you already know) it will need managed wireless, frequent laptop checks, safe way of transporting laptops to and from lessons, secure storage for the laptops, enough oomph to charge all laptops & lots of time to security mark every laptops, tag them add them to your CMDB/Inventory... of course we all do the latter 3 anyway.
    Last edited by dwhyte85; 14th November 2009 at 09:29 AM.

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    RabbieBurns's Avatar
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    We issui all departments with trolleys of 20+ Acer Aspire netbooks. We have managed wireless throught the 3 campuses, and are on course for an AP in every single classroom by January. Teachers all have their own laptop, and office staff have the choice of a laptop + docking station or a desktop + netbook.

    Not quite 1 laptop per child yet, as theres loads of classes they dont need them. But the acer netbooks battery lasts for 6 hous, and they charge up while they are in the trolley.

    All trolleys are locked and the trolleys themselves are bolted and chained to the floor

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    farmerste's Avatar
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    do you get ofsted at your school

    as ofsted works from the becta guidelines, and i think they currently say you will need a ratio of approx 80% wired to wireless ( looking for the documents at moment), then i would inform the school that going totally wireless may result in a 'bad mark' from them.

    also a recent precautionary document about wifi in schools can be read here :- OCT 2009

    http://www.hpa.nhs.uk/web/HPAwebFile.../1254510618866

    of course this is not PROOF that any harm, or unwanted affects will be shown, but it is quite wisely written, i would show this to the people plotting this type of 'below par' school network, and i would also mention the only thing 'good' about laptops is their 'portability' the bad points far outweigh the good ones.

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    tmcd35's Avatar
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    One a plus note. I have had some success with the Ethernet-over-Power 'HomePlugs' where we have a need for a 'portable IT suite' between several rooms and don't want to pay out for dedicated wiring in all the rooms.

    I've been removing the batteries and disabling the wireless on the laptop. Then using a standard socket doubler for the homeplug and laptop power. Reports from science, were they are used, suggest teachers like the system and the laptops are getting used more.

    We are now upgrading 12 of the laptops with Ergo Hard Case Pro's.

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    We have classrooms which are a combination of wireless/desktop`s and rooms which are wireless only.
    At this moment we do use "unmanaged" Cisco Aironet 1200 series Access Points.
    With unmanaged i mean, we do not have a controller to manage them, but you can import/export configuration files so i can quickly add and config an extra Access Point.

    Depending on the amount of laptops which are used in a classroom, i add AP`s.
    So we do have classrooms with 1 AP but also rooms with 3 AP`s, all on their own unique channel (1,6,11).
    All AP`s are set to 1 Mw to prevent distortion between rooms/channels and this works (almost) flawless.

    In our setup we use +/- 10 laptop`s on 1 Access Point, so our most crowded room has 3 Access Points.

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    Quote Originally Posted by KWestos View Post
    I have been asked by a Primary School of the possibility of going completely wireless, has anyone here done this, if so, how's it going?

    The school in question is very forward thinking and have just come back from Australia and they want to use some of their ideas in the school.

    Their plan (over the next 3 years) is to have every child with a netbook etc. And be able to take lessons from anywhere within the building. I could go on, but that's about the crux of it.

    So I would appreciate any information if anyone's tried it.

    Many thanks


    I have done one of these for a secondary school with 1000+ devices, they do still have cabled IT Suites but they can run everything on the wireless if they want to. They even have wireless projectors, what I would reccomend is that you do not use any wireless that is cell based (and make sure you check) as it will not provide the bandwidth required.

    An iPod for each pupil at Essa Academy will help school to stay in touch - Times Online

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    About laptops/netbooks use in general, there are several issues you have to deal with.

    1. Batteries, 9 cells batteries do work between 4-6 hours when they are brand new, but their lifespan shortens over the years, so after a few years they only last for 1 hour or maybe 2.
    Our laptops are 4 years old at this time and i had to buy new batteries last week because some did not last any longer then 5 minutes.

    2. Charging, you have to buy trolley`s which can charge the laptops between classes and overnights.
    A decent quality trolley will cost between €1800 - €3500, depending on brand, amount of laptop`s it can charge/store etc.

    3. Vandalism, laptops/netbooks are damaged more often, particular keys from the keyboard, lcd`s broken in parts and harddisks giving up after 3-4 years of use.
    We do have Dell laptop`s with 4 years next bussines support, so most failures are dealed by our garanty, but this does not count for dropped laptops ofcourse
    Also batteries only have 1 year garanty, if you want 3 years you pay another €50-70.

    Mostlikely there is a lot more to say about it.

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    Ah I didnt touch on this point, lapsafe have made a re-charging unit called the Q Charger, you would have to look at specific laptops but if they are considering new ones, there is a product released by intel which are designed to be tough (not quite as tough as tough books) they are called fizzbooks and will withstand a drop,standing on or spillage they are probably more interesting for primarys (some secondarys have) but they also have strengthened keys and have additional security so that they dont work outside the wlan if you want to have that set, these definately fit in the Q charger

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    tmcd35's Avatar
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    Could induction charging mats on students desks - Powermat wireless laptop charger prepped | Electricpig - be an answer to battery life?

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    Quote Originally Posted by tmcd35 View Post
    Could induction charging mats on students desks - Powermat wireless laptop charger prepped | Electricpig - be an answer to battery life?
    depends where you are powering them from id imagine tbh if youre going to that extreme may as well rig a psu into the desk maybe tie it up underneath with just enough cord to reach the laptop

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    Quote Originally Posted by tmcd35 View Post
    Could induction charging mats on students desks - Powermat wireless laptop charger prepped | Electricpig - be an answer to battery life?
    I don't see wireless charging becoming commonplace until devices and desks have built-in support for the Qi wireless charging standard. The method PowerMat uses is proprietary.

    http://www.popsci.com/gear-amp-gadge...rging-standard

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    Quote Originally Posted by gjdb View Post
    About laptops/netbooks use in general, there are several issues you have to deal with.
    Definitely agree with this. Laptops are the bane of my life.

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