Page 19 - Campus Technology, January/February 2020
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and are missing the mark on saturation cover- age, high throughput and uninterrupted avail- ability. With limited access points, aging gear and outdated protocols, many current universi- ty networks simply cannot get the job done.
4) Operational focus. Many colleges have subpar IT networks and, as a result, IT depart- ments spend time on operational tasks like maintaining infrastructure and student infor- mation systems, rather than strategic initiatives — the relatively new technologies that institu- tions can plan and implement to drive their attainment of strategic goals. While it’s impor- tant to focus on operationally essential tasks to keep schools running smoothly, it’s equally important to focus on strategic initiatives.
New Thinking to Higher Ed’s Rescue
While higher education institutions grapple with challenges, applying new thinking might just clear the path to WiFi success. Here’s what schools need to know to address most of today’s complexity, device, uptime and focus issues, as well as to create paths to the future.
Mobility and scalability are No. 1 priorities.
Keeping the student experience your priority is imperative. And this means delivering unin-
terrupted WiFi in a secure, user-friendly and scalable manner. From the lecture hall to the residence hall, the library to the student union, the outdoor quad to the laundry basement, students expect perfect WiFi. They want to do homework in the outdoor quad and stream Netflix from their residence hall without inter- ruption. Your network must have the flexibility to scale as needs change — and adapt to more personal internet-connected devices, more students, new buildings, etc.
The University of Alabama at Birmingham, a public university with nearly 13,000 stu- dents, including 3,000-plus living on campus, is an interesting example. According to a recent Association of College and University Housing Officers-International Talking Stick article, UAB was unprepared for the increas- ing number of devices students were bringing on campus. The school’s wireless service, orig- inally built for a lower threshold, buckled at the increased traffic. Putting the student experience first, UAB made seamless wireless connectivity a priority and now offers wired ethernet, WiFi and cable television with speeds ranging from 230 Mbps for basic inter- net to 290 Mbps for an upgraded package.

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