Saturday, 9 October 2010

Wireless upgrades

We had some funding for new wireless access points, which I have spoken about before here. We spoke to the departments about where they wanted them and carried out surveys to find the best places. We tried to cover teaching spaces primarily (especially as the departments themselves were not paying) so as many people as possible would get use out each access point. It was rather annoying however the amount of staff said they wanted it just above THEIR desk or in THEIR office where, after a survey, it would only really be them getting any benefit out of this costly AP.

After a few early starts so as not to effect users we have maybe nearly 400 access points up now. As these are 802.11n access points they provide 5ghz access to the network for compatible devices such as Macbooks and also better security.

A problem we have encountered is with the few older 1200 series access points. As these only support WPA and not WPA2 we have Macbooks that think they are connected but are not. The Macbook associates, gets an address and then enables encryption so it has a valid IP address but does not work.

As a workaround it seems Macs specify WPA2 automatically so we need to remove all profiles of our network from the airport config, the reconnect specifically as WPA Enterprise and it should work.

A last point about wireless. It seems greater demands are being placed on it this academic year due to the greater use of smart-phones. This is something any network team will now need to consider when setting out their wireless needs. I have already seen local schools using iPod's, PSP's and Nintendo DS's in the classroom along with mini video cameras capable of uploading video and pictures over the internet. This, along with the phenomenal success of the iPhone among staff is a big wireless move in the academic sphere.

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