Wednesday, 6 February 2013

Show me the [wireless] money

If you have been reading my blog posts this academic year you will find a lot more of the posts are about our wireless network. This is due to the fact my role has evolved into almost completely a wireless networks dominated one. Mainly only because I was the only one who knew a bit about the network and how it worked when the main wireless guy left, but also because in this term just gone wireless demand has exploded.

This isn't necessarily a bad place to be in. Yes, there is lots of work to do, but hopefully all this work and extra importance will lead to a better position and more training. Fingers crossed.

Whether it is the popularity of the iPad (or tablets in general?) or ultra-light, ultra-thin laptops and netbooks that have no ethernet port like the Macbook Air, we have seen student wireless traffic outweigh wired traffic by 2:1 (numbers here).

We also have over 8000 simultaneous wireless connections during a day (compared to 1000-2000 last year) and over this academic year we have had over 72000 unique mac addresses connect to the educational wireless service (called eduroam).

Still though it is not enough, we have a number of requests coming in saying:

"When are you going to get the whole campus covered?"

"When am I going to get wireless in my office? I need it, I've got an iPad"

Well, my boss has got a meeting with the new director next week so we have been putting some numbers together to see what it would take to roll out wireless everywhere on campus. It looks like we would need approximately 969 more access points. Then there is the fact we need at least 300 new switches as many don't have PoE ports, the cabling, sockets, asbestos abatement, upgrade of cabinets etc. This has led us to a figure of about £5,000,000.00, but...

Houston, we have a problem...

We can no longer purchase the model of access point we have deployed EVERYWHERE as it apparently interferes with the French weather survey equipment. We are told there are no more Cisco 1142s in the country, and the access points we have been recommended by our suppliers, the 1602 and the 2602, don't work with our WiSM 1's as they are EOL and we need to upgrade to the WiSM 2.

We haven't got a price yet, but we think these will be about £15,000 each. Not including all the new licences we need. Then there is the time it will take to upgrade the core and migrate all 1400 existing access points across.

There are a couple of alternatives we could have for our WiSM 1's (1262 and 3502), but these, as far as we can tell, won't have modules to support 802.11ac , which could be ratified by the end of November this year.

So either way we will be having to swap everything out sooner or later, or as soon as Apple starts using 802.11ac (rumoured to be a deal with Broadcom for their 2013 new line up).

Maybe we should ask for something more like £10,000,000 over the next few years?

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