Things to consider before upgrading your school’s Wireless network

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Today the marketplace for manufacturers of Wireless Access Points (WAP) is a crowded one, with many vendors jostling to get their WAPs into UK schools and strengthening their position in the education market.

Here are the top things that schools should look out for when selecting a wireless solution – that way when you are ready to make a decision, it’s an informed one.


1. Which wireless band - '802.11ac' or '802.11n'?

The new 802.11ac wireless band delivers improved range, faster connectivity and a lower power consumption so it makes sense to ‘future-proof’ your school with wireless access points that can deliver it.

Do not worry if most of your school’s devices still operate on the ‘old’ 802.11n standard – new generation 802.11ac WAPs will be able to serve those devices perfectly well. As your school purchases new devices that can handle 802.11ac your school will benefit from faster, more stable wireless connections over a longer range.

2. Survey, Survey, Survey!

School Managers sometimes expect suppliers to produce wireless proposals based on scanned images of building or floor plans alone and tend to shy away from having us perform an on-site survey.

Their concerns are understandable – often suppliers will charge for onsite surveys and managers see this as a superfluous cost. In addition school managers are charged with the health and safety of pupils and any new supplier visiting the school needs to be managed from that perspective.

Luckily, Joskos offers schools free onsite surveys and all of our engineers and project managers are DBS checked. Our engineers can produce digital Wi-Fi ‘heat maps’ overlaid on school floorplans to estimate the number and positioning of access points, but an on-site survey is always more accurate.

In addition, an onsite survey will reveal pitfalls such as interference coming from other devices (motion detectors, microwaves etc.) and walls and ceilings made from materials that are either too thick or too thin.

3. You may want to lose the controller

Ruckus Wireless, Joskos’ long-standing wireless partner have recently disrupted the industry with their Unleashed range of wireless access points. This solution is perfect for smaller schools that use 25 WAPs or less because it requires no wireless controller. This translates into lower procurement and installation costs while giving schools all the benefits of a Ruckus Wireless solution.

In our own objective experience Ruckus should be counted among the world’s best when it comes to speed and reliability. This, coupled with an education-friendly pricing model makes it particularly well suited solution for schools.

Ruckus Heatmap4. How will you manage it?

While performance and price will always play a big part in the decision-making process, there is a further consideration: Ease of management and administration. Management software that comes bundled with wireless vendors’ solutions will vary widely in terms of user-friendliness and richness of features.

Before you ‘sign on the dotted line’ be sure to ask your wireless supplier to deliver a demo of the management software they are proposing and ask your Network Administrator to be present and verify whether it ‘ticks all of their boxes’. You may be saving yourself hours of support calls and frustration further down the line.

We hope that this was helpful. For a free wireless survey and demonstration performed by a DBS checked engineer, simply contact us.