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management Briefing - Wireless Networking Strategy

Author: ITS

Posted on Apr 12, 2013

Category: Management Briefings

Background The current wireless solution on the UNB Fredericton and Saint John campuses is seven years old and has reached end of life. There is an immediate need to replace the entire wireless network infrastructure with wireless ‘N’ technology (aka 802.11n), which will result in vastly improved reliability and capacity for our students, faculty and staff. The project This summer, new access points and controllers will begin to be installed on both campuses. The objective is to triple our current capacity—ensuring users can connect to our network with a variety of devices, whether with a tablet or smartphone or laptop, or even all at once—while providing the reliable and sustainable wireless performance our community expects. The new service will provide increased coverage for very large lecture halls, and eventually introduce coverage for selected exterior spaces. The new wireless infrastructure is a crucial component of the new UNB mobility strategy, which defines the necessary technologies—most especially wireless networking—to bring the best mobile experience to students, staff, faculty, and visitors. Equipment has already been delivered. Planning for the deployment is underway: Saint John campus installation will be started first, with work on the Fredericton campus beginning soon after, likely during July or August. The bulk of the project is expected to be finished this year, though we intend to complete Saint John by June. 802.11n wireless vs. wired networks 802.11n improves upon previous 802.11 standards by adding multiple‐input multipleoutput antennas (MIMO). 802.11n operates on both the 2.4 GHz and the lesser used 5 GHz bands. It operates at a maximum net data rate from 54 Mbits/s to 600 Mbits/s (Wikipedia). 802.11xx is the worldwide standard that defines wireless technology in terms of radio band, capacity and speed. Given such performance, a common question I am asked is when wired networks will become obsolete. Not anytime soon, actually. There are still lots of requirements for very large capacity and very high speed networks on our campuses that wireless technology simply does not meet. Investment in wired networks is therefore not wasted—while the number of wireless devices being deployed on our campuses continues to grow, we still need the very high bandwidth and quality of the wired networks for large‐scale, network/computing/data intensive requirements in research and administration, plus VoIP telephony and robust connectivity to far‐flung information resources and services.

Terry Nikkel, Associate Vice President, ITS – April 12, 2013