Networking & Wireless

Australian Catholic Education Office Deploys 802.11ac Wireless Network in 39 Secondary Schools

The Australian Catholic Education Office, Sydney has implemented a new wireless network using the latest technology, 802.11ac, at 39 secondary schools in Sydney.

Prior to the upgrade, the district had been using an 802.11n wireless network, but with the explosion of wireless devices in the schools over the last few years, the infrastructure could not meet demand. After conducting an extensive review of its existing wireless network the district decided to upgrade to 802.11ac technology.

802.11ac is the latest and greatest WiFi technology, offering data rates exceeding 1 gigabit per second and greater capacity, improved radio frequency management, and overall improved performance compared to its predecessor, 802.11n.

The district needed a solution that could enable single sign-in to the wireless network and easily on-board new devices. After evaluating solutions from numerous vendors, the district selected 802.11ac WiFi technology from Aruba Networks.

The district initially rolled out the 802.11ac Aruba solution at nine of its secondary schools and its head office, followed by implementation at 30 more secondary schools in late September. More than 30,000 users — including students in grades 7 through 12, teachers, and administrators — are using the new WiFi network. It's now common for them to connect up to three devices, including Apple iOS, Android, and Windows-based smart phones, tablets, and laptops to the WiFi network at any time.

The district also implemented Aruba's ClearPass Access Management system, which enables the district to "securely connect any approved user via a single sign-on to the identity management system used the the Catholic Education Office," said Milton Scott, CTO of the Catholic Education Office, in a prepared statement.

According to Scott, the district has seen a significant performance increase with the new WiFi network. "All of our secondary students and teachers can now move from classroom to courtyard to oval and back again, and the Aruba platform easily switches them from one network access point to another with seamless connection," he said. "This has also helped overcome the issue of 'sticky clients' which we have experienced with some devices connected to the legacy network."

The Catholic Education Office, Sydney operates 147 primary and secondary schools in Sydney, Australia, serving more than 65,000 students.

About the Author

Leila Meyer is a technology writer based in British Columbia. She can be reached at leilameyer@gmail.com.

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