Key considerations for K-12 schools when choosing a wireless vendor (part 1)
If you’re like most K-12 schools, your students will be toting more technology in their Star Wars backpacks than your entire district had in its computer labs 10 years ago. To add to that, you received grants for your “One-to-One” program, and shiny new Chromebooks and iPads now “share the air” with your laptop carts, smart boards and “BYOT” devices. All that wireless “Stuff” will be connecting to your network – or at least trying to. That means your Wi-Fi had better be ready for just about anything. Many schools are looking to upgrade/forklift their wireless networks to keep up with “little Johnny.” To help, we’ve compiled a “Top 12 for K-12” list of topics to consider:
1. The need for speed – pick with future needs in mind
While current user demands will need to be met immediately, it will be more beneficial for schools to choose a solution based on their possible future needs. This way, both aspects can be addressed while leaving room for growth. It’s likely that high-definition videos and other bandwidth-intensive activities will be increasingly accessed through wireless connections, especially for interactive lessons. Make sure that your chosen vendor can take full advantage of the new 802.11ac spec, and not be limited by legacy architectures. This will ensure that the infrastructure will easily support future traffic and demanding workloads.
2. Expect consumer grade devices on your enterprise network
The use of computers and laptops in schools has evolved into the increasing utilization of smartphones and tablets for similar purposes. Wireless infrastructure must not only be ready for these devices, but for any other consumer hardware that will appear in the near future. The consumerization of IT is leading users to expect to use their equipment in both their personal and professional activities – this trend is leaking into the education environment as well. With wearables and the Internet of Things expected to be the next big developments, it will be important for vendors to be able to support these demands and provide opportunities for innovation.
3. Plan for capacity over basic coverage
While coverage of wireless infrastructure is important, if the solution doesn’t have the capacity to handle your user traffic, it’s pointless. Schools should plan for more capacity than they currently require because it’s likely that they will see significant spikes in traffic in the near future. If there isn’t enough capacity to handle these demands, users will see a substantial drop in available connectivity. Vendors must be able to support these capacity provisions and give direction to ensure that educators continue to have the best solutions.
In part two, we’ll explore more of the technical qualifications that schools should look for in their wireless providers.
For the complete list of important considerations when selecting your K-12 wireless vendor, download the free whitepaper below.