Networking & Wireless

Central Missouri District Beefs up Wireless Infrastructure

Columbia Public Schools in central Missouri is updated its Wi-Fi infrastructure to improve speed.

The district, which sprawls out over 300 square miles in and around Columbia, MO, with 18,000 students in 30 K-12 schools, picked Ruckus Wireless to supply it with the new 802.11ac Wave 2 technology, an advance in terms of speed over 802.11ac Wave 1 and way ahead of the 802.11n equipment most districts still have.

According to Ruckus, this is the first deployment of Gigabit class Wi-Fi in the United States. However, a recent report by consultancy International Data Corp. said education is fueling growth in the WLAN market and it expects nearly three-quarters of all new WiFi infrastructure installations in schools to be Wave 2 technology by 2017.

"Our move to a complete district-wide Gigabit-class infrastructure gives us the power to address future requirements, many of which are hard to even anticipate," said Columbia Public Schools Technology Services Director Christine Diggs. "Fast and reliable Wi-Fi access is now simply an imperative for delivering a 21st-century education."

Ruckus will deploy more than 1,400 Wave 2 access points in the Columbia district facilities that will be managed by a cluster of 100 controllers. Ruckus Wireless's 802.11ac Wave 2 product can deliver up to 5dB of signal gain and aggregate data rates of over 2 Gigabits per second.

District representatives said the changeover was called for because of the high demand required to support the growing range of applications, devices and services used by its faculty, students and administrators. More teacher evaluations, in-class collaboration, guest access, student information systems, Google apps, scientific simulations, video streaming and more represented demands that its legacy Wi-Fi infrastructure was not able to meet.

What's more, district representatives said the number of man-hours required to keep the old wireless network up and running was "staggering."

"This demand for capacity is being fueled by the need for wireless bandwidth in and out of the classroom," said Ruckus Wireless COO Dan Rabinovitsj, "along with the influx of increasingly powerful smart mobile devices being used to access content and online digital curriculum."

About the Author

Michael Hart is a Los Angeles-based freelance writer and the former executive editor of THE Journal.