10 Best Practices for Upgrading Your Campus Wi-Fi

Get Complete Campus Outdoor Wi-Fi Coverage for Your Students

The pandemic has underscored the digital divide between students who have Wi-Fi access and those who do not. Schools have stepped up by lending laptops to students and installing better campus Wi-Fi so students can learn remotely from the school parking lot or campus grounds.

Even as the current crisis resolves, the need for strong, reliable internet access will remain for many students. If your school is ready to upgrade, here are ten things you need to know.

1 Have a professional do a site survey.

A professional will examine the materials used for internal and external walls, the types of ceilings and roofs, the number of buildings, the number of stories per building, the parking lot, and campus grounds to build a sufficient network layout. From there, you can determine the number and location of each indoor and outdoor access point for maximum coverage.

2 Get the right number of access points.

Too many access points will cause interference. Not enough will cause dead zones. You want your students, staff, and faculty to have adequate coverage no matter where they are on campus. Access points must be powerful enough to provide complete Wi-Fi coverage and offer enough bandwidth to handle multiple devices without compromising quality. Design around your weakest wireless client—typically a smartphone. Smartphones have small antennas and low output radios. You will need strong, well-placed access points to keep them connected.

3 Use the latest wireless technology.

Right now, that means 802.11ax or “Wi-Fi 6” as it is more commonly known. In addition to the increase in speeds, the biggest benefit of using 11ax technology is its ability to handle the high-density requirements driven by the growing number of mobile devices in schools. That number will only grow larger.

4 Future proof for the next five years.

Upgrading school Wi-Fi networks from older, slower technology provides a future-proofing level that won’t need to be upgraded again for another five years, maximizing your E-Rate funds. To save even more money, consider a company like EnGenius Technologies that provides license-free cloud management.

5 Use a managed onsite or cloud-based WLAN.

A managed WLAN provides visibility and awareness of the network. Using networking hardware that supports management capabilities is essential. Access points, switches and controllers that are manageable provide network visibility for monitoring network traffic, applying security and access policies across the network, troubleshooting, and updating firmware.

6 Look for WLAN management that can scale.

The scalability of a WLAN management system also provides a future-proof way to manage and expand your network as you choose. Look for a system that allows you to manage the network onsite and/or remotely, either through a cloud-based service or remote access. This gives you the flexibility to decide who will handle this important task and whether they can do it from campus or a central location such as from the district office or through a managed service provider.

7 Make sure it’s easy to deploy & configure.

With the abundance of wireless and network management tools available, it’s important to select a vendor application that’s easy to deploy and configure. Network management can be complex, so choose an intuitive solution with a relatively low learning curve, yet one that’s robust enough to meet the needs of a growing network.

8 Secure & control network access.

Protect and block school assets and sensitive student information located on the network from unauthorized access while allowing students and teachers to connect with the resources they need.

9 Utilize Networking Industry Standards & Protocols.

Use hardware and management software that adheres to industry security standards and accepted network security protocols such as Wi-Fi Protected Access Encryption (WPA2-PSK at minimum or WPA3-Enterprise) and 802.1X with RADIUS for user authentication. Wireless standards and protocols protect and encrypt data as it moves across the network.

10  Segment Network Access.

Establish a secure network segment that blocks access to administrative computers and servers while allowing teachers to collaborate and students to study. Create separate, secure virtual network segments, and assign them to single or multiple access points while regulating network bandwidth and isolating student devices to keep them secure from other student devices on the network.

The most efficient way to increase security is to use a PSK (pre-shared key) to provide every client a unique passphrase under the same Wi-Fi name. A per-user VLAN (virtual local area network) allows for one Wi-Fi name and multiple users assigned to different VLANs.

Consider EnGenius for all your Wi-Fi needs.

For your K-12 students who lack access to fast, reliable internet, EnGenius provides full campus coverage Wi-Fi. Learn more about our advanced access point solution and keep your students connected and learning. See How >

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