ANSecurity, a specialist in advanced network and data security, has helped Canterbury College in Kent, UK to implement a Ruckus Wireless Wi-Fi solution designed to meet the growing demand for BYOD, improved coverage and more network capacity.
With the growing use of innovations like interactive smart whiteboards, remote-link video training, and collaborative learning tools to connect students and teachers, Canterbury College was looking at ways to enhance its IT to improve the teaching and learning experience.
With 95% of students also using their smartphone on campus, the expectation of reliable Wi-Fi was not being met and the number one complaint to the IT helpdesk was issues with the quality of the Wi-Fi connection and drop-outs in service.
As Nicole Cook, infrastructure engineer at the college explained: “Our IT team isn’t very big, and we need the time spent dealing with Wi-Fi issues and improving the network infrastructure to be used in more productive ways, by investing in the future of the college. At the moment, network management isn’t something that is simple enough that we can leave it with junior members of the team.”
The incumbent network couldn’t cope with the significant uplift in user demand, and as a result it wasn’t delivering the performance required. What started off as a 60 access point (AP) deployment, ended up with an additional 30 APs installed over the years, trying to fix coverage blackspots without any strategic planning behind their positioning.
The network also lacked a centralised controller, which meant identifying issues on specific APs was a lot more complicated than it should be, and any systems updates needed to be carried out on each AP individually – a highly time consuming task in itself.
The college reached out to ANSecurity to help solve its wireless network needs. In an industry where IT budgets are frequently monitored and sometimes restricted, ANSecurity carried out a virtual site survey on the campus for free, identifying key blackspots and mapping out where APs needed to be placed for maximum coverage.
Canterbury College also needed a solution that could handle the capacity requirements for its 1,600 laptops and BYOD devices used by up to 2,000 students onsite at any given time, while ensuring future-proofing when it came to upgrading or scaling out of the network.
Based on these requirements, ANSecurity recommended and installed a Ruckus Wireless solution including Ruckus R500 wireless APs using adaptive antenna technology and automatic interference mitigation to deliver consistent, predictable performance even in a busy classroom or dining hall.
ANSecurity also provided a Ruckus’ SmartZone 100 controller, which immediately gave the IT team advanced visibility into the behaviour of not only connected users but the performance of the individual APs within the network.
An initial survey of students and faculty resulted in unanimous positive feedback. In addition, since the installation Canterbury College has seen a 60% reduction in the number of complaints to the IT team regarding the quality of the Wi-Fi. The college is now able to offer guest passes from the reception desk to visitors, something they’ve never been able to do before.
However, by far the biggest change has been how much added visibility and management the SmartZone controller has given the IT team over the entire wireless local area network (WLAN).
“Education wireless needs to be secure, but we also need to be able to track it,” said Barry Boden, Head of IT for the College. “With our duty to protect and safeguard our students and their internet usage, ANSecurity and Ruckus Wireless have made this process simpler, and the ability to remain compliant with the monitoring and reporting of student’s wellbeing has become a lot easier.”
Cook added: “From start to finish the ANSecurity team have gone above and beyond to ensure we received the best possible service. The team’s knowledge and expertise alongside the outstanding performance of the Ruckus Wireless solution has meant we can begin to invest our time and resources into more ways we can use technology to help our students and staff improve the entire classroom and learning experience.”
“The project at Canterbury College is a great example of how a powerful hardware and flexible software can help to solve challenges that go beyond providing simple access,” said David Hood, managing director, ANSecurity.
“Features such as guest access and self-service tools can dramatically improve the performance of help desk teams and provide a much more enjoyable Wi-Fi experience for teachers, students and guests while offering a bottom line financial benefit.”
Steve Johnson, Regional Director of Northern Europe at Ruckus Wireless, added: “As the learning experience becomes further digitised, and demands of faculty and staff increase, schools and colleges need best-in-class Wi-Fi infrastructure in order to deliver a 21st century education. With ANSecurity, we have deployed a future-proof network to Canterbury College, placing their students at the forefront of technology and learning innovation.”