Deploying a WiFi network on a small African campus

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Deploying a WiFi network on a small African campus

Postposted on Mon Mar 12, 2012 5:33 am

Hi I am part of a small IT team at a small school in Cameroon with about 5000 students and we are thinking about setting up a WiFi network for the staff and students I don't have much experience in this field and would like to know how to go about setting it up. I have been tasked with putting together a proposal to make it happen. I appreciate all the help I can get. I would like to know what kind of equipment, software, and the any other pertinent info I might need thank you all.
hallik
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Re: Deploying a WiFi network on a small African campus

Postposted on Mon Mar 12, 2012 6:30 am

5000 students is small? Wow!

OK, how many devices are going to be connected to this wireless network? What kind of wired infrastructure do you have in place already? Is it just going to be school owned devices connecting to this network or do you want the staff and student's personal devices (i.e. smartphones, tablets, laptops) connecting to it as well? How big an area will need to be covered? What are your buildings made out of, do they have a lot of steel and concrete in the walls?

Finally, what do you intend to use the network for? Internet access? File access?
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Re: Deploying a WiFi network on a small African campus

Postposted on Mon Mar 12, 2012 1:44 pm

What Norphy said plus:

What level of performance or reliability are you looking for? Ease of management? Are you looking for simple access, or something more advanced, like multiple SSIDs (distinct wireless networks), enterprise level security, seamless switching between access points (using the network while on the move), automatic channel management, etc.

Some enterprise solutions include Ruckus Wireless, Motorola's Wireless lan offerings, and Aruba Networks. All three of those are "Controller-AP" systems, where you purchase an expensive controller and then add cheap APs as needed, and all configuration (and in some cases, traffic) is handled by the controller. If your rollout is large enough, these companies may be able to help you design the network and do a site survey, etc. Their knowledge is worth as much as the system itself in some cases, because if you don't get it right, you end up adding access points to eliminate dead spots, troubleshooting overloaded wireless in crowded areas, general network instability, etc.

An option to consider based on budget is Ubiquity's Unifi. These have a software controller for configuration but the APs can run without the controller, once set up. The price on Unifis are very low, but they are not a true enterprise level product.
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highlandr
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Re: Deploying a WiFi network on a small African campus

Postposted on Mon Mar 12, 2012 1:50 pm

Is there a budget? Because honestly many of the potential solutions you're going to be recommended are probably well past what you have to spend.
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Re: Deploying a WiFi network on a small African campus

Postposted on Tue Mar 13, 2012 6:37 am

thank you guys for all your input, we expect about 2000 students to be connected with their laptops and smart phones, the local telecom company has delivered fiber optics to the school and we are charged with setting up the wifi network from there, the school probably covers an area of 1km2 but most of the building are still concentrated withing a 200-300 m2 area. of course it is a new campus and expanding so that has to be factored in also. we are mostly setting it for internet access for the students, the buildings are concrete buildings, we don't need a high performing network as most of the internet use in the area is mostly for browsing and facebook and such. We would love something that is easy to manage and quite reliable as far as other considerations I am not sure but would live ideas on how to get a very good system in place. thank you guys and have a nice day.
hallik
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Re: Deploying a WiFi network on a small African campus

Postposted on Tue Mar 13, 2012 11:46 am

Washer wrote:Is there a budget? Because honestly many of the potential solutions you're going to be recommended are probably well past what you have to spend.


I wouldn't make any assumptions on what's "probably well past" his budget, but to get a good, reliable system in, you will have to throw a good amount of cash at it.

Hallik, it might be well worth your while to try to get some consulting to help plan the project. If there are some semi-local folks that could come onsite and take a look at the campus, that'd be a good place to start. Calling some of vendors of equipment, or a reseller might also be a good place to go (just keep in mind that they're sales people). This can help get an idea of what it'll require to get an appropriate system installed, and figure out where you need to start.
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