Networking & Wireless

Mountain View High School Beefs up Wireless To Support 2,000 New Chromebooks

Mountain View Los Altos Union High School District (MVLA) has beefed up the wireless network at Mountain View High School (MVHS) to cope with a 560 percent increase in network usage following the deployment of more than 2,000 Chromebooks.

The looming adoption of the Common Core State Standards and the technology and assessment requirements that go along with them led the district to reassess its technology and wireless infrastructure needs in fall 2013. With approximately 1,800 students and only around 300 Chromebooks, district administrators realized they needed many more devices.

"We went from 300 Chromebooks district-wide at the end of the last school year to more than 2,000 today," said Mike Mathiesen, associate superintendent at Mountain View High School, in a prepared statement. "We sought a wireless provider that could support our new requirements for density and capacity, as well as the ability to scale to match our future growth plans."

The district's network was also not up to the challenge, with inconsistent access depending on location and an inability to scale up for the looming explosion in demand.

"We found that if too many devices connected to an access point, at some point everyone would simultaneously lose connectivity," said Mathiesen. "It was adequate when it was first put in four years ago, but as the number of devices connecting grew, it became apparent that a new solution would be necessary."

Expecting demand to increase in the future, MVHS turned to Xirrus with a plan to implement a network capable of supporting a 3:1 device-to-student ratio. The school chose to deploy 4-radio and 8-radio high-density modular access points (APs) offered by the company, in part to reduce installation and operational costs associated with using a greater number of standard 2-radio fixed APs.

"Administrators also utilize Xirrus' ability to manage application usage to ensure wireless devices are being used strictly for educational purposes during school hours,"according to a news release. "Xirrus' Application Control puts tools in the hands of administrators to monitor usage, prioritize critical educational applications, and block recreational applications such as social media and gaming."

"LAHS expanded their wireless coverage significantly, extending connectivity across all classrooms as well as common and outdoor areas," said Jose Perez, director of IT infrastructure services at MSA Systems, which partnered with the school on the upgrades "By deploying Xirrus, LAHS ensured that their investment in wireless would be adaptable to changing wireless requirements, significantly lengthening the overall lifespan of their network."

The network upgrade and Chromebook deployment were both funded through grants from the Mountain View Los Altos High School Foundation and Google.

About the Author

Joshua Bolkan is contributing editor for Campus Technology, THE Journal and STEAM Universe. He can be reached at jbolkan@gmail.com.

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