How to ensure your school gets the best out of its wireless network

Wi-Fi in schools has never quite matched the Wi-Fi we get at home, and as students bring more smartphones, tablets and laptops into the classroom, the gap will only get worse.

While IT administrators need to carefully manage student access and many users in classrooms or lecture halls, dealing with high-density environments doesn’t have to be difficult:

Make the most of the latest tech

The newest tech offers the kind of performance and robustness that was traditionally the preserve of big-budget companies. Now that tech is affordable for schools. So, use the newest Wi-Fi standard 802.11ac and smart antenna technology, which are easy to roll out and manage.

Smart antenna technology, as found on ZyXEL’s WAC6500, works with the latest Wi-Fi standard. It ensures the best possible experience for each individual user’s device by focussing clear, crisp signals directly to the device where it’s needed – delivering ultra-fast performance that is ideal for high-density environments like schools.

Understand the devices on your network

For each device on the network, identify the radio types, Wi-Fi certifications (802.11b/g/a/n), data rates, frequency bands, application throughput capabilities and more. Knowing lots about the devices will help you design a network fit for purpose.

Identify bandwidth requirements

Students stream music and video, browse social media and share files, which all take up different amounts of data. If you determine what applications students use, you can establish a target application throughput for each application — and block those that cause problems.

Use overlapping dual-band access points on low power

Dual-band access points give devices the maximum available throughput. If you overlap two or three access points in high-density environments around the school like classrooms, the access points can load balance without a negative impact. The power is an important consideration when overlapping. If too high, access points can experience interference. Instead, overlap access points and set the output power to half or a quarter for the 2.4GHz access point and half for the 5GHz access point.

Use a supportive partner

Your wireless partner should provide you with more than just the different pieces of equipment. Getting the right equipment is key, but so is your partner’s understanding of network management and what to do when things need to change. The right partner will do more than just deliver the kit, they’ll provide long-term support and information on the latest trends and issues. Picking a supportive partner will ensure you get long-term high performance of your network.