If you are involved with IT for education, you feel the constant pressure to expand your Wi-Fi bandwidth and coverage. First there was campus-wide BYOD with the growing number of devices per person. Then the quality of residence hall Wi-Fi become an important decision factor for students applying to schools. Now the Internet of Things is rapidly expanding the number of devices, machines, and displays on the school Wi-Fi network.
In K-12 education, Wi-Fi-based 1:1 computing is playing a growing role. The use of streaming video and other vehicles for delivering personalized learning are expanding in both K-12 and higher education. Add in student wearables and new educational technologies such as augmented and virtual reality, and it’s clear why many schools’ wireless access points have become overloaded.
This burgeoning demand for Wi-Fi bandwidth and capacity is stressing school IT budgets, as well as leading to Wi-Fi interference challenges. It’s not always desirable or affordable to simply add additional access points. The constraints have often forced a trade-off between coverage and performance.
Fortunately, the 802.11 standard has continued to evolve to address the bandwidth and capacity needs of education. Specifically, 802.11ac Wave 2 provides a powerful step forward in addressing the challenge. It provides more usable and cost-effective bandwidth than any previous generation of Wi-Fi, especially for high-density environments. The higher performance of the new standard comes from its support for four spatial streams compared to three in Wave 1, and wider channels (160Mhz) resulting in up to 3.5GHz of potential throughput.
The Wave 2 standard also helps extend battery life by reducing the amount of time that devices’ Wi-Fi interfaces must operate to exchange data with access points before returning to their power-saving dozing state. This is all-important in classroom environments, where mobile student devices operate on batteries.