Universities, already early-adopters of 802.11n WIFI

Posted by at 2:00 pm on August 25, 2008

Universities, already early-adopters of earlier flavors of Wi-Fi, are also leading the charge towards 802.11n, especially in North America per a report by ABI Research.

“Although current penetration of the higher education market is only 2.3%, that still represents a good rate of uptake for such a new, pre-standard technology,” says ABI Research vice president and research director Stan Schatt.

The reasons for this are the same as those prompting higher education’s already rapid adoption of previous Wi-Fi technologies: the need to serve large numbers of users at once, the demands of on-campus security, students’ expectations, and innovative use of video in the curriculum. The latter qualification is especially important in light of 802.11n’s five-fold expansion in bandwidth compared to its predecessors.

“As video becomes an essential part of the academic experience, bandwidth video requirements and newer laptops (which increasingly will have 802.11n built in) mean that a marriage of convenience will occur between students’ needs to view video anywhere on campus and the ability of 802.11n-enabled laptops to handle the bandwidth requirements,” notes Schatt.

Universities’ pool of tech-savvy staff also means they are unafraid of “bleeding edge” technologies, and they frequently write related software in-house.

Duke University, University of Arizona, Carnegie Mellon University, and many others are seeing significant deployments, conducted by vendors such as Cisco, Aruba, Meru Networks, and Trapeze Networks. Trapeze recently announced a major deployment at the University of Minnesota, which will cover 22 million square feet of indoor space as well as outdoor space over two adjacent campuses. There are more than 80,000 students, faculty, and staff at the University of Minnesota Twin Cities. It is scheduled to take five years and $15 million to light up the 300 buildings and over 1,300 floors of indoor space as well as the outdoor areas.

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