by Manish Rai
We’ve shared our own success with the challenges of delivering Wi-Fi in Dorm rooms. But we also want to share the stories of other customers. So we talked to a number of Higher Education customers, including St. John Fisher to hear how their team’s Campus experience went.
Getting Started with Dorm Room Wi-Fi Planning
There was unanimous agreement that dorm rooms are among the most challenging places on a campus to deliver Wi-Fi. Most dorms tend to deploy APs in hallways, yet building materials and placement of bathrooms can prevent adequate signal where it is needed the most—within the rooms.
The growth in connected devices per student—which, based on our recent survey, now exceeds five per student on campuses, has not helped. With both the number of connected devices and the overall traffic growing at around 50% YoY, providing adequate capacity is a constant challenge. If this were not enough, the increased usage of products like Wireless Printers and Apple TVs that use chatty protocol - Bonjour - makes matters worse. In fact, some universities have reported that Bonjour makes up 70% of their dorm room traffic. On top of all this, students are increasingly replacing cable with Netflix and streaming services for movies and live sports from the Internet, and that is a recipe for campus Wi-Fi woes.
Taking Control of The Dorm Network
So how does one take control of the dorm network and deliver the service level that students expect? Though the challenges may seem insurmountable, connectivity in your dorms can be tamed by following the five steps below:
1. Create a blacklist of devices that do not play well with enterprise networks (e.g., some wireless printers) and ban their use.
2. Plan dorm capacity three years out by providing for two to three times today’s demand.
3. Consider installing in-room access points to provide the best coverage for all students.
4. Deploy software solutions that allow students to register their Bonjour devices and connect to them without flooding the network.
5. Limit student bandwidth during peak hours or based on usage scenarios.
So What’s Next?
As a vendor with a major focus on the Education market, Meru has been busy creating an optimized solution for the dorm rooms. Meru’s dual 11ac radio wall-plate access point ensures that you can meet the bandwidth needs of students for many years to come. Integrated wired ports allow students to connect their Xboxes and other wired devices as well.
Meru’s “Personal Bonjour” application allows students to register their devices and connect to them from anywhere on campus, while simultaneously limiting Bonjour-related multi-cast traffic that can bring the network to its knees. Meru Connect can automate onboarding of students’ personal devices. And you can enforce user bandwidth limits to ensure fair access for all students. In short, we keep listening to our customers to ensure that we are creating a complete solution for their needs.
While creative students will continue to find ways to bring the dorm network to its knees, Meru has taken majors strides toward developing a solution that can help you keep pace with the demand.
Click here to request a free trial on the industry’s first dual-radio 11ac access point.