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Maryland School District Overhauls Wireless Network To Support Streaming Video

A Maryland school district is deploying a 802.11n wireless network in all of its schools to make streaming video and voice over IP (VoIP) easily accessible.

Howard County Public School System, based in Ellicott City, selected Aruba Networks' Mobile Virtual Enterprise architecture to provide wireless access in classrooms, media centers, and common areas in all 74 schools. The district uses mobile devices that run on iOS, as well as Dell, Apple, and other types of laptops and netbooks. So far, the network has been installed in two educational centers, one middle school, and 12 high schools. Completion of the deployment is slated for 2013, and the district has provided all teachers with network access a laptop computer.

Currently, in the 802.11n locations, Aruba AP-105, AP-125, and AP-135 802.11n access points are linked to the Aruba S3500 mobility access switch and Aruba 3400 series mobility controller. In addition, Aruba AirWave lets information technology staff centrally monitor who is on the network, where they are, what devices are being used, and how much bandwidth is being used.

"The ability to securely stream wireless voice and video in all of our schools is a quantum leap from where we were a year ago. It's very satisfying to provide state-of-the-art teaching resources to our students and staff," said Michael Borkoski, technology officer at HCPSS. "I'm also in a very unique position, being an executive of the school system, a taxpayer in our county and a parent of two children enrolled in our schools. I'm wearing three hats when I'm making decisions about value and functionality; Aruba satisfies my wireless network access requirements from every perspective."

The Aruba AP-105 includes a pair of 2x2 MIMO dual-band 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz radios with two omni-directional antennas; and the Aruba AP-125 features two 3X3 dual-band 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz radios. They both offer data rates up to 300 Mbps per radio. The AP-135, intended for mobile devices, provides 3X3 MIMO dual-band 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz radios, data rates up to 450 Mbps per radio, and three spatial streams. All access points feature a 100/1000BASE-T Ethernet interface, and adaptive radio management, which monitors radio bands to find areas of RF interference.

The Aruba S3500 mobility access switch connects up to 384 gigabit Ethernet devices and provides access to wired users. Aruba 3400 series mobility controllers support up to 128 access points, 32 mobility access switches, or 512 remote access points. It also handles encryption, virtual private network connections, authentication, Ipv4 and iPv6 Layer 3 networking, firewalls, spectrum analysis, and wireless intrusion protection.

Howard County Public School System has approximately 51,000 students in 40 elementary schools, 19 middle schools, 12 high schools, and three education centers. The district has 7,888 faculty and staff.

About the Author

Tim Sohn is a 10-year veteran of the news business, having served in capacities from reporter to editor-in-chief of a variety of publications including Web sites, daily and weekly newspapers, consumer and trade magazines, and wire services. He can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @editortim.