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Aruba thinks it may be part of the creation of the world's largest wireless local area network (WLAN): I'm not quite sure if they're right, but they make a good case. The network will require between 3,000 and 10,000 APs. On the short end of that range, there are plenty of campus-wide (academic and business) networks in that scale. But on the higher end, I'm unaware of anything that large. Even city-wide networks like Philadelphia should employ only the mid-thousands of nodes, although they're not providing the same kind of high-availabily, in-building overage that Ohio State will have.
The stats: 50,000 students, 27,000 faculty/staff, 25 million square feet across 400 buildings, and 1,700 acres. In three weeks, they've lit up 1,700 APs in 28 buildings. I assumed that was the time to get the network running, not both physically stringing APs and logically activating the network--but I'm apparently wrong. Read the comment below. [link via Engadget]
Dartmouth University, known for being an early Wi-Fi adopter, has big growth plans: Administrators are in the process of expanding the network from its original 200 access points to 1,500. The new network will use APs from Aruba and will support 802.11a, 802.11b, and 802.11g.
It sounds like Dartmouth is responding to the bandwidth needs of students. Because Dartmouth has been on the leading edge of Wi-Fi, it'll be interesting to watch the university as WiMax products begin hitting the market. Stringing 1,500 APs sounds like a major pain while WiMax would require far fewer base stations.
The University of Texas at Dallas, which recently set a rule forbidding students from building their own Wi-Fi networks, rescinded the policy: The action of forbidding the networks created quite a buzz online. University officials referred to an FCC notice posted in June that makes it clear that the FCC is the only body that has jurisdiction over the airwaves. While universities have some control over what students do in student housing, in this case, the student building is not owned by the university. That means the university has less rights to control what students do there. [link via Frank]
An association of university telecom administrators has already asked the FCC to clarify whether universities can ban Wi-Fi networks: The University of Texas recently banned students from setting up their own Wi-Fi networks, stating that the independent networks were interfering with a free university-maintained network. The FCC told the Association of College and University Telecommunications Administrators that schools can prohibit students living in campus housing from building wireless networks. But, if the school leases residential property where students live, they can't restrict the use of wireless networks. The right of the University of Texas to forbid students from using their own wireless networks will depend on who owns the building the students live in.
Frank Bulk, a some time contributor to Network Computing Magazine and Dordt College network administrator on leave, did some sleuthing and discovered that the student housing at University of Texas at Dallas is on university land but owned and operated by a property management company. It would seem that the university doesn't have the right to limit students' use of wireless networking in the facility. Also, a student and former resident of the apartments describes his experience using the university-sponsored network, which explains why students buy their own connections.
The University of Texas at Dallas has instituted a new policy that forbids students from setting up their own Wi-Fi networks: The university says the many independent networks cause problems for students trying to connect to the university provided wireless network. I'd like to know why so many students are setting up their own hotspots if the university offers free access--perhaps the university needs to improve their network so that students won't have the need to build their own.
It will be interesting to see how students react to the new policy. As noted on Slashdot, this appears to be a case where an organization other than the FCC is attempting to regulate the airwaves. The FCC has recently clarified that it is the only body that controls the airwaves.
The University of Michigan is facing a budget crunch which may limit the growth of Wi-Fi on campus: While parts of campus are already covered, many departments have included new Wi-Fi networks in their budgets. But because of the university's tight budget those items may not get approved.
It seems like many universities are facing budget shortfalls and it would be unfortunate if that slowed down the growth of Wi-Fi on campuses. However, I continue to see news about universities that are building out their Wi-Fi networks so perhaps the University of Michigan's experience doesn't point to a trend.
Brown has covered 5 percent of campus with a Wi-Fi network and may build out more but leaders there say the wireless network will never replace the wired: Brown has already wired classrooms and dorm rooms with broadband connections and those are faster than Wi-Fi, says a network admin.
Most other universities are much more gung-ho on building out Wi-Fi. This story looks mainly at Rhode Island schools and points to Bryant College which plans to be 100 percent covered this Fall. The University of Rhode Island is working on providing access to 20 percent of campuses used by 80 percent of students.