March 24, 2008

Wayne State University upgrades to next-generation, high-performance wireless networking

Technology initiative more than doubles wireless Internet access in WSU classrooms, research buildings, and libraries on its main campus

With the launch of a $1.3 million technology initiative, Wayne State University is joining the first wave of universities adopting new 802.11n high-performance Wi-Fi technology. The project more than doubles the capacity of Wayne State's current wireless network, wireless@wayne, within its Midtown Detroit campus and upgrades the technology to the latest 802.11n products provided by Sunnyvale, California-based Meru Networks Inc.

The new 802.11n standard for wireless networks provides faster data transfer rates (about 250 megabits per second/Mbps compared to 54 Mbps for the existing 802.11g standard), travels twice as far as current standards (about 230 feet, more than twice that of 802.11g), and is more reliable. With Meru Network's breakthrough Air Traffic ControlTM technology, Wayne State students, faculty, and staff also can look forward to improved performance while online with their wireless laptops.

"We are being proactive in making the latest wireless technology available. This project fulfills a major technological initiative that supports infrastructure development as part of the university's 2006-2011 Strategic Plan," said Joseph F. Sawasky, chief information officer and associate vice president for Computing & Information Technology at Wayne State University. "Our students, the workforce of the future, expect convenient and reliable wireless Internet on campus, as it is a common means of accessing information. The benefits of wireless are far-reaching and central to enhancing WSU's learning environment and nurturing strong and dynamic university and business communities in Detroit."

According to Meru Networks CEO Ihab Abu-Hakima, "Wayne State's wireless plans reflect a growing momentum in 802.11n adoption less than six months after the industry's first 11n products began shipping. Meru's virtual-cell wireless technology, shown in independent tests to minimize network interference, will enable the university to provide economical and reliable campuswide wireless coverage with a minimum amount of hardware and a low maintenance effort. With Wayne State's large student population, dense urban environment, and diverse mix of client types, we expect this deployment to be a showcase for what Meru 11n technology can do."

Wayne State began its year-long wireless upgrade and expansion project on March 10, 2008. Meru Networks' 802.11n products will replace the current 802.11b/g wireless access points (APs) in 28 WSU buildings, and will be deployed in 22 additional buildings. Wayne State's total number of wireless APs will grow from 453 to 1,000, bringing high-performance wireless coverage to all classrooms, research buildings, and libraries on the university's main campus.

According to Sawasky, the new 802.11n standard for wireless technology will provide better service, more reliability, (and eventually) faster access to the Internet, even in very heavily used Wi-Fi hotspot locations.

"The higher capacity, faster data rates, and increased ranges provided by Meru Networks' 802.11n equipment will enable more people to utilize the university's expanded wireless network for high-bandwidth applications and innovative rich digital content in teaching and learning - such as streaming video," Sawasky said. "With the current wireless technology, network response time drops significantly when many people are trying to connect to the same Wi-Fi access point. We see this happen in large classrooms, the libraries, and at the Student Center Building. Meru's award-winning Air Traffic ControlTM technology dramatically improves the capacity at these high-demand Wi-Fi locations."

The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) is expected to ratify 802.11n as a standard in March 2009. Wayne State will be completing its Meru 802.11n wireless deployment at the same time, and a software upgrade is all it will take to bring the university's wireless network up to the final standard. This initiative places Wayne State University at the forefront of providing 802.11n Wi-Fi technology, well ahead of all those expected to follow.

Wayne State University is a premier institution of higher education offering more than 350 academic programs through 11 schools and colleges to more than 33,000 students.


Tom Reynolds
Phone: (313) 577-8093

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