WLAN gives students a technological fair go

Monday, 18 July, 2011

Students and teachers at Melbourne’s Bialik College have better access to networked resources and the internet thanks to a new virtualised wireless LAN.

The college, which has children from kindergarten through to year 12, provides more than 1060 students with a Jewish and general education.

Rapid proliferation of technology has made it essential for Bialik to provide its students with a technological education as they prepare for tertiary studies. Students are encouraged to discover the benefits of online connection and practical online tools, such as email and search engines.

Students and staff increasingly used their personal computers, laptops, tablets, tablet computers and smartphone devices on campus. However, without a wireless network, access was limited to wired connections. Students and staff were not able to obtain network or internet access consistently enough to maximise the learning experience.

“We wanted all our students to have a fair go at using the school’s network with internet access,” says David Micallef, head of technology for Bialik College. “We already have access to a number of devices with the capability for wireless internet connectivity. The only thing that was hindering our progress was the lack of a wireless network solution for the campus.”

Bialik College explored a number of wireless LAN solutions, eventually settling on a Meru Networks virtualised wireless LAN from Wavelink Communications.

The network provides wireless coverage across the Bialik campus and supports 802.11 a/b/g/n devices. The network is simple to install and manage as it doesn’t require channel planning and allows all access points be deployed on the same channel. Each access point is deployed at full power, delivering greater coverage with fewer access points. Adding capacity for dense user environments involves adding a channel, and performance for bandwidth-intensive devices is improved.

Bialik staff completed full deployment of the Meru controller and 26 access points themselves, in less than one week.

“Unlike solutions from other vendors, there was no need to hire additional consultants to deploy the product, as it was all done in-house,” says Micallef.

Staff and students can use the school’s network with internet access from anywhere on campus. There have been no connectivity interruptions or issues associated with channel interference.

“It gave our school an easy-to-implement, problem-free solution and the benefits definitely outweighed the costs,” says Micallef.

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