Wi-Fi is as much a part of university life as classes and exams. Originating as a “hotspot” accessory, wireless networking has become a baseline technology that students expect. And once installed campus-wide, WLANs are swamped, with more than 100% usage increases per semester.
That can be a problem for college IT departments. Unlike an office, where wireless users are evenly dispersed in cubicles, students bunch together, jamming access points (APs) and the result is poor performance for all.
Texas State Technical College (TSTC) Waco wanted a wireless system flexible enough for the day-to-day demands of 5,000+ students and that could support any application the college might deploy in the future.
A primary requirement was enabling “mobility, mobility, and more mobility.” But most conventional Wi-Fi networks consist of uncoordinated APs, which have difficulty handling many active wireless users converging in the same area. The WLAN also had to provide support for legacy 802.11b/g systems without impacting newer 802.11n clients – a challenge for traditional wireless systems based on micro-cells.
At a tech trade show, TSTC officials found what they were looking for – the Extricom Series from Council member Allied Telesis. The Extricom Series’ WLAN is built around Channel Blanket™ architecture, which combines the signal of multiple APs operating on the same channel as contiguous blankets of coverage. Within the Channel Blanket, wireless clients associate with a switch rather than an individual AP, and the switch coordinates AP transmissions to eliminate co-channel interference. There are no handoffs between APs as clients move around. In effect, the entire network appears to the client as a single large AP.