Most colleges moving to the ultrahigh-throughput network are deploying 802.11n over existing Wi-Fi networks and extending those earlier deployments. One advantage the universities have over many municipal Wi-Fi deployments is their single customer origin point. Many municipal rollouts have been bogged down because competing commercial, political, and consumer interests haven't been able to agree on a successful deployment.
Several vendors led by Aruba, Cisco, Meru Networks, and Trapeze Networks are deploying 802.11n networks on campuses across North America.
"As video becomes an essential part of the academic experience, bandwidth video requirements and newer laptops means that a marriage of convenience will occur between students' need to view video anywhere on campus and the ability of 802.11n-enabled laptops to handle the bandwidth requirements," said ABI research director Stan Schatt in a statement. Schatt noted that new generations of laptops are being outfitted with 802.11n capability.
As the new 802.11n spec, with its increased speed, coverage, and reliability, intersects with a broader selection of vendor offerings, wireless is becoming a viable platform for mission-critical network connectivity. InformationWeek has published a report on how 802.11n can impact the enterprise. Download the report here (registration required).
While Duke University and Concordia University in Canada began deploying pioneering 802.11n networks several months ago, the most ambitious deployment is under way at two campuses of the University of Minnesota. The Minnesota plan anticipates eventually serving 80,000 students. The Minnesota network is being designed to be able to support future wireless technologies like WiMax.
With a fivefold jump in bandwidth over earlier Wi-Fi versions, 802.11n will likely promote a more widespread use of video in curriculum, Schatt indicated. Also propelling the rollout of 802.11n on college campuses are the demands of on-campus security and the need to serve large numbers of students simultaneously.
Schatt noted that 802.11n rollouts at colleges are spurred also by the fact that university environments produce many advanced software experts.
"Although current penetration of the higher education market is only 2.3%," Schatt said, "that still represents a good rate of uptake for such a new pre-standard technology."