How to avoid the Wi-Fi blues in academia

Such massive data consumption surely causes network administrators to ask themselves about the source of the traffic. Where is all the bandwidth going?

The most ubiquitous applications aren’t necessarily the ones that consume the most bandwidth. Facebook, for example, one of the most popular applications among students, does consume significant bandwidth, but it isn’t usually the highest consumer of data.

Video and music applications, including services such as Netflix, YouTube, iTunes, and Pandora, often trump all other activity, including social media applications like Facebook, Twitter, and MySpace. File sharing can also have a huge impact on network traffic, usually through servers or peer-to-peer applications like BitTorrent.

What can overworked network administrators do? Here are five best practices that school network administrators should follow when deploying Wi-Fi on campus or across a school district, in order to ensure a successful wireless experience for students and faculty.

1. Deploy 802.11n

Relying on older wireless technology like 802.11b/g to support the influx of devices and the application traffic of students is a recipe for disaster. 802.11n provides the wireless foundation on which a school’s high-capacity network should be based, because it has the performance capacity to support high-density environments and high throughput applications.

2. Ensure adequate coverage

Whether blanketing classrooms, student residences, or both, it’s essential to provide the coverage that supports the level of client density expected across different campus locations. Pay special attention to challenging wireless environments, such as campus buildings with high student density or buildings constructed from materials such as brick, concrete, or steel, and deploy additional access points in these areas if necessary.

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