How wireless connectivity is changing the face of higher education

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Smartphones, tablets, social networks and the cloud have changed the way we work, live – and study. University students in particular are traditionally the early adopters of new technologies. In fact, we would be hard pressed to find a student who doesn’t share photos on Facebook or Instagram, stream TV shows on Netflix, or speak to family and friends on Skype or WhatsApp using a tablet or smartphone.

The lack of wired connectivity on mobile devices poses a challenge for universities due to the prevalence of these devices amongst students across the UK. In order to meet students’ expectations, universities need to provide them with a home away from home and offer them the best educational experience possible – which includes satisfying their Wi-Fi connectivity needs. For many universities, this means installing wireless solutions in halls of residence. However, faced with ever-decreasing budgets, how can universities affordably satisfy student demands?

Access for all is key

Much like other types of organisations, universities strive to find effective solutions that are easy-to-use, won’t place an additional burden on their tech support teams and, importantly, are affordable.

An added challenge is that with so many residents and potential connected devices in close proximity, universities need to create non-competing networks that can provide high-speed connectivity to all students.

It is essential to avoid individual students hogging bandwidth, resulting in lag and delays for the others. As a result, rather than deploying a complex wireless infrastructure for the whole of the halls of residence, many universities need a solution that can be deployed on a room by room basis.

Ease of configuration, security and signal strength

Most university IT decision makers agree that they prefer solutions which are small, compact and durable but still have all the necessary features. One key consideration is the need for a product that can be easily configured and enables the university to auto-tune the solution and set the wireless signal parameters for the dimension of one bedroom per unit only.

With most rooms being in such close proximity to each other, the signal strength needs to be modified on each device in order to ensure that there is no interference between the routers in neighbouring rooms. At the same time, universities need routers to provide good signal strength in the room they sit in while being secure, effectively and efficiently protecting their wireless networks.

High-speed connectivity without huge investment

Thankfully technology has evolved at a similar pace as user demand for high-speed connectivity, and today’s router technologies can meet all of the requirements of universities; they are quick to set-up, easy-to-use and feature rich whilst remaining very good value for money.

It is no longer necessary to invest huge amounts of budget in order to deploy high-speed connections in student halls. Whether funded by the universities themselves or by students living on shoestring budgets, having a wireless device in each room won’t break the bank. What’s more, implementing new devices doesn’t require bringing in additional staff or deploying complex infrastructure. Students can usually install the routers in each of their rooms themselves and call the IT department if they encounter any issues.

Making the right technology choices means that universities can offer each student their own private protected high-speed network, with little performance conflicts with other networks on campus, enabling each person to wirelessly connect up to eight or nine devices at any given time.

Ultimately, it’s about offering students a home away from home experience on campus and supporting their studies in the always-connected world of mobile devices, social networks and the cloud. This will enable universities to affordably improve their own reputation and competitiveness. It’s a win-win.

Image source: Shutterstock

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