The University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV), founded in 1957, is located in the heart of showbiz industry in Las Vegas. The school offers higher education programs ranging from business, engineering, fine arts and music, and science, and professional schools such as dental medicine and law.

The school’s mascot, Hey Reb, was recently featured on Hulu’s “Behind the Mask,” and you may recognize the Southern Gym during the dance scene between Elvis Presley and Ann-Margret Olsson in the movie Viva Las Vegas.

With over 24,000 unique WLAN users per day, 1.1 gigabytes of throughput per second, and more than 50 wireless access locations across campus providing WLAN coverage, this educational institute demands a massive Wi-Fi network.

In the previous blog, we highlighted some of the Bonjour enhancements of the 7.5 software release and the deployment of Bonjour at St. Margaret’s Episcopal School, a K-12 school. In this blog, we will describe details about UNLVs WLAN deployment, how they use Bonjour services, and give you an insight into rapid pace of innovation necessary to support this technology in the education arena.

At a Glance:

Located in: Las Vegas, Nevada

Number of students: 27,848

Number of teachers/staff: 2,925

# of Access-Points: 1500 units ranging AP1130 to the new AP3602

Controllers: 2 units of WiSM2 and 5 units of WiSM

Software Version: AireOS 7.6

Prime Infrastructure 1.4.1

Radius Server: FreeRadius Server and OpenLDAP as a Directory Store

The networking team believes in providing a best-in-class wireless network to students, faculty and guests. Mike Albano, the Senior Network Engineer at UNLV, provided further details on the deployment:

“The university is running the latest 7.6 software version and taking advantage of several innovations including Application Visibility and Control (AVC) and Bonjour Services Directory.

The WLAN is optimized and we have two SSIDs, which is a Cisco recommended best practice.

  • The first is 802.1x enabled secured using PEAP and dedicated for students, teachers and faculty.
  • The second is dedicated for guests that are simply authenticated using Web Pass-through.

The UNLV campus installed the AP3602 Access Points, which support the Cisco CleanAir technology, for high-density classroom deployments, and use RF Profiles to disable the lower data rates, another Cisco best practice. The networking team likes the AVC functionality on the controller WEBGUI, which lets them view applications used on the network and acts as a debugging tool. AVC is turned ON for the guest SSID to keep an eye on what the guests are using on the network; no policies are applied yet.

One of the most interesting aspects of the deployment is the support of Bonjour services. UNLV has deployed about 40 AppleTVs and will double that number within a year as they expand the Wi-Fi within the lecture-halls.  Location Based Service is used with Bonjour in order to provide context-aware services. In addition, they are also using priority-mac feature to prioritize in the multiple environments:

  • AirTunes is used by the music department for students to share their creations with their classmates
  • AirPlay, with AppleTVs and AirServer, are used in the Education department as a teaching aid, and
  • AppleTVs are used to enhance conference rooms and classrooms.”

Some thoughts about the future:

1. UNLV is currently evaluating the 5760 series WLAN for deployment in the future

2. UNLV is planning to adopt the 802.11ac technology in high-density areas such as at the Lied library, a 300,000 square feet facility, hosting 1.2 million volumes and 2,500 study spaces.

3. Mike has also tested and intends to deploy the High Availability with Stateful Switch-over functionality whereby clients and access points from the primary controller fail-over sub-second to the hot standby controller.

4. While UNLV uses the current Bonjour Services functionality, they want to apply granular policies per user-group and want to limit the services shown depending upon the user’s location. They will be running EFT code for the upcoming AireOS release, where granular policies will be enabled.

The future Bonjour enhancements allow schools to enable the following use cases to allow user-based and location-aware Bonjour service access:

  1. In a classroom, teachers and students logging into the same SSID and getting IP addresses from the same VLAN can get differentiated service access. Namely, the teacher group can project to the AppleTV, but students cannot.
  2. Teachers can temporarily allow a student to project his or her work on the AppleTV in the classroom.
  3. The IT administrator can configure the location of a Bonjour service per access point, so that when the user connects to that access point, he/she can view only that service instead of all the services in that vicinity.

You might be wondering to yourself, “Can I get access to the EFT code for the added Bonjour granularity of policy and location?”

Starting early March, you can get access to the beta code to try this functionality. Please reach out to your Cisco account team or partners for more information.


Jeevan Patil

Director, Product Management

Wireless Network