“Mighty oaks from little acorns grow!”
According to Marro Kim, former Communications Infrastructure Manager at Victoria University in Melbourne, Australia, it wasn’t supposed to be this big of a project. The University was only going to improve a ten-year-old wireless network but after seeing what Cisco wireless devices can do, the job got bigger.
“We were looking first and foremost for reliable coverage,” he explained. “Our legacy wireless network was about ten years old, and simply could no longer deliver the performance and density we require. In some situations, we had a single slow wireless access point shared by 20 or 30 students.”
After all was said and done, Victoria University saw more than just an upgraded wireless network, it experienced a digital transformation across its entire campus.
With a student population of 40,000 plus an additional 1800 faculty and staff, Victoria University is a dual sector University with higher education and vocational education and it has a lot of important operations depending on its network. The wireless network also needs to handle the growing number of devices and applications used by everyone on campus. This meant that the equipment chosen for this upgrade needed to be mission critical. That’s why they chose more than 2,400 Cisco Aironet 3800 Series and Cisco Aironet 1570 Access Points (AP) for the job. The Aironet 3800 Access Points were deployed inside the campus buildings while the Aironet 1570 APs handled the outside network.
The University has gone from 75 percent wireless coverage to 100 percent.
Both access points are 802.11ac compliant (the Aironet 3800 is 802.11ac Wave 2 compliant), meaning that they’re packed with cutting-edge technology and ready for the next wave of connected devices. The connectivity speed is also unparalleled and the Aironet 3800 Access Point offer innovation such as Flexible Radio Assignment (FRA) and High Density Experience (HDX).
FRA is especially helpful in a university setting because the dual radios automatically change from 5GHz/2.4GHz monitoring mode when there is not a lot of devices on the network to 5GHz/5GHz mode when a sudden influx of devices occur on the network. You can imagine how useful this is in a lecture hall with students filling up and emptying seats on an hourly basis.
In addition to the strong Wi-Fi, Victoria University administrators are making use of the reams of data that their new network is providing them. Granular information from mobile and IoT devices have allowed them to gain unique insight into the preferences of the students as well as their own operations. From there, the University wants to apply this understanding to creating a more personalized experience for their students, staff, faculty and visitors via capacity planning.
And while the device data is invaluable, Zoran Sugarevski, Executive Director, Information Technology Services at Victoria University, said that the wireless network has been running efficiently to support our core business.
“I don’t think that a day went by when I did not receive an email from angry academics or students around the Wi-Fi and I have not received one since we went live,” he reported. “The experience that the students are having is fantastic, and we’re hearing that from the student body. We’ve got great speeds and plenty of capacity on the Wi-Fi network.”
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Well done to Victoria University and Cisco. A good wireless network is now a student expectation, not a demand.
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