We are a 14 class (plus several additional learning spaces) primary school arranged in a figure-of-eight pattern. We are looking at wireless options and would like some opinions please.
I have used individual APs (Netgear) serving pairs of classrooms in a smaller school before. However, the additional size and increased potential usage (class set of laptops to be bought soon, variety of groups in odd places around (and outside) the building) of this wireless network means I am leaning towards a managed solution.
However, the costs seem huge! Enter the Netgear WFS709TP and accompanying 'lite' APs which seems like a viable option. 'Seamless' movement between 'zones' and less hassle in setup and administration. I have always had good experiences with Netgear products despite the cheaper costs.
What are your opinions on / experiences with managed wireless networks in general? I am trying to think in terms of reduced hassle and support requirements over multiple unmanaged APs as being a primary we don't have a full time technician(s)!
Thank you, David.
Re: Wireless options
Firstly to be open an honest I am Education AM for ONI, a Cisco Gold partner and Education partner so can only really comment on the Cisco solution.
Whatever system you get, managed is def the way to go. The system should look after itself, choose optimum power and channels, direct users to the best AP (in Cisco world this is CCX).
We recently put a primary school wireless and LAN system in Luton (I would be happy to give you the details if you like) with Cisco 1100 series APs and Cisco Wireless LAN Solution Engine. This allowed us to use less APs and get better coverage than their previous system.
You really need a wireless survey first to understand the optimum number of APs and positioning.
Also if you order through a Cisco Schools partner you will get additional discount, paying a lot less than commercial customers.
What LAN have you got to overlay the wireless?
How many students are likely to use the wireless at a time?
Re: Wireless options
Thanks Tom. I will definitely be getting quotes and surveys done but I've always found it useful to find out as much as possible myself first! ;-) I would really appreciate more details about the Luton job.
Is there a list on here, or anywhere else, of recommended companies in an area etc? Is there a list of Cisco Schools partners, rather than just gold or whatever, on the Cisco website?
Re: Wireless options
Yes the Cisco.com site has a partner locator. You can search by location and it should show all partner accreditations.
Marketing are presently putting together a casestudy on the Luton primary and if they are happy to recieve the call I am happy to put you in touch with them.
Also happy to come and see you to discuss or if you are at the edugeek confrence day I will be there?
Originally Posted by Tom_ONI
We're looking for something very similar at the moment to eventually roll out to all the schools in our area. The wireless network will be required to not only support pupil laptops but any wireless device (including those without 802.1x support).
Our vision is to have the user sign in to an open network using a web page on their device, thus any device which has a web browser would be able to connect to the network. Of particular note is Apple's iPod Touch which we are hoping to distribute to teachers for marking the register and providing lesson aids (this device does not support 802.1x).
We were looking at the Cisco 4400 Wireless Controller to accomplish this. Are you able to use any access point with this or would you be required to have Cisco APs?
We already have some of our network backbone running on Cisco hardware (routers, l2 switches etc.). Would the Cisco managed networking solution suit our needs?
I think a managed solution is the only sensible way forward once you get beyond a small number of laptops.
We looked at a Cisco based solution, however the costs were prohibitive even allowing for Education discount.
We ended up installing a 3Com solution based upon a Wireless WX2200 LAN Controller and 3Com 2750 'thin' Managed Access Points. I would recommend a site survey even if you intend doing the installation work in-house, as we did. We paid for the wireless survey, the cost of this was 'discounted' from the hardware costs once we agreed to purchase the kit. To keep costs down we did our own installation & setup, I learned a lot about RADIUS and certificates along the way!
Thanks for the quick reply broc. The thing i'm concerned about is what happens to devices that cannot accept certificates (like the iPod). Are they still able to log on to the wireless network?
Depends on the authentication method.
If you only require a certificate to validate the server then you can configure devices to not bother.
If you are using 1 certificate per user to authenticate the user then you won't be able to use devices that cannot use certificates.
Some setups will allow you to have more than 1 authentication method but still utilising radius for secure wireless.
We use Elektron radius server and as well as using windows accounts you can also use it's own database of accounts.
It will also assign a vlan depending on what conditions are met so you have the possiblity of guest internet access.