Stone Group’s education customers are snapping up the new 802.11ac wireless standard, despite analyst claims to the contrary.
The firm says that English schools are bypassing old WiFi technology and refreshing their estate using the new standard ahead of the next school year, with one in four of its deployments based on the new standard.
This flies in the face of Gartner research concluding that just 8.9 per cent of deployments will be based on the standard this year, the firm claims.
One of its most recent wins is with Twickenham-based secondary school Orleans Park, which has started using a Cisco Meraki 802.11ac wireless network this month, to allow students and teachers to connect their own and the school’s devices to the web via its London Grid for Learning ISP.
Stone has installed 30 MR34 access points across the 70-room, 16 acre site, which includes outdoor areas such as playing fields.
Peter Richardson, senior IT technician at Orleans Park, said: “This is our first WiFi network and comes at a crucial time for us. Our sixth-form centre opens in September, and new students will be able to access their course materials, learning aids and engage with their teachers via the network. It’s incredibly fast, downloads files in seconds, and students can use their WEP keys to sign in. Learning is no longer classroom based here now, it can be anywhere on site, with no awkward bandwidth downtime.
“It has been a few days since I turned the network on, and already about one third of pupils are accessing it. We used a small pool of ICT students to test it, and since go-live, word of mouth has spread its popularity on campus. We think that within a couple of months, all students will be running two devices each over the WiFi. I don’t think this would have been possible if I’d chosen a less robust standard than 802.11ac,” he added.
Simon Harbridge, chief executive of Stone Group, said: “We supplied Orleans Park with their new Cisco Meraki network after a site visit to assess the school’s geography and infrastructure and plan the set-up. 802.11ac is remarkably quick WiFi and has the gigabit ethernet backup to be able to cope well with lots of data changing hands between students and the internet. It’s perfect for educative requirements and, judging by the sharp upswing we’re seeing in interest, many schools and colleges are seeing it as an essential investment when refreshing their tech estate ahead of the new academic year.”
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