Portsmouth Grammar School deploys WatchGuard Wi-Fi

Wi-Fi solution installed over 300 rooms is able to overcome signal blockage caused by 1.5m thick stone walls to enable delivery of new digital education programmes

Portsmouth Grammar School deploys WatchGuard Wi-Fi

Portsmouth Grammar School in the south of England has chosen WatchGuard solutions to deliver Wi-Fi in over 300 rooms, while maintaining robust protection, keeping pupils, staff and visitors safe online and ensuring private data is secure.

The Wi-Fi design had to overcome 1.5 metre, rock-solid walls at the school to provide coverage. The Wi-Fi service has allowed the school to offer a digital educational experience by encouraging pupils to bring their own tablets, smartphones and other connected mobile devices into the classrooms.

Founded in 1732, Portsmouth Grammar School (PGS) provides education for boys and girls, from nursery up to sixth form and is based in a former army barracks. While the impregnable, flint-filled school walls were once ideal for withstanding enemy artillery attacks, they are also good at blocking radio signals, making Wi-Fi access across the campus a major challenge. Even with network access points in every room, the thickness of the walls would hamper connectivity.

However, WatchGuard came up with a solution, creating a network of 150 WatchGuard Wireless access points across the school, with one located in every other room. This approach reduced the cost of deployment, while delivering a full Wi-Fi signal across every part of the campus.

The access points are connected to a WatchGuard XTM 860 network security appliance that authenticates a user as soon as they are on the school grounds, removing the need for laborious login pages. Guests can also join the network automatically if they have a password provided by the IT department.

Online and email security is also provided by WatchGuard’s Unified Threat Management (UTM) suite running on the XTM 860, which offers a complete cyber security defence package, including Anti-Virus, Intrusion Prevention, WebBlocker, SpamBlocker, Application Control and Packet Filtering. The school can also use WatchGuard’s WebBlocker service to control which websites pupils can access.

The improved security and connectivity provided by WatchGuard has enabled Portsmouth Grammar School (PGS) to further enhance its digital capabilities.

“Thanks to WatchGuard, our pupils’ devices are securely, consistently and easily connected to the school network,” said Tim Howlett, head of IT at Portsmouth Grammar School. “What’s more, the WatchGuard solution has enabled the school to introduce new technologies with confidence, knowing they will be secure, while it is reassuring to know known that our more adventurous pupils aren’t able to hack into the network!”

“Secure, ubiquitous wireless is a must have for any school wanting to harness the latest technology and services to deliver a rich online educational experience, said to Jonathan Whitley, Northern Europe sales director at WatchGuard Technologies.

“While the historic building occupied by Portsmouth Grammar School presented a unique set of challenges, the combination of WatchGuard Access Points and XTM network security appliance made it possible to deliver reliable connectivity and security at far less cost compared to other solutions.”

WatchGuard will be featuring its range of UTM devices and wireless access points on Stand E400 at BETT, from 20-23 January 2016 at ExCeL in London.

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