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Wi-Fi LANs Connecting On Campus

College campuses are deploying 802.11n wireless networks at a much higher rate than other markets.

Even as 802.11n wireless LANs gain in popularity, one particular market has quickly emerged in the front of the pack -- college campuses. A survey of 24 universities conducted by wireless networking company Meraki has revealed that higher education institutions are deploying 11n networks at a much higher rate than most other markets.

The Meraki survey, released this week, was based on a survey which compared 10,000 randomly selected devices at 24 colleges with 10,000 randomly selected devices in general use. The survey found that students consume 3.3 times the bandwidth as typical Wi-Fi users. The study seems to support a survey by the Wi-Fi Alliance that said high school students often pick colleges based on wireless accessibility.

"There's a lot of interest in upgrading to 802.11n and setting up building or campus-wide wireless networks now that Wi-Fi usage has become mainstream," said Sanjit Biswas, CEO and co-founder of Meraki, in an interview. "Students at higher education institutions help us predict the future of wireless adoption and show us where the market is headed. Colleges have always been on the cutting edge of technology. Younger students are using wireless in ways that the general public just isn't yet."

While 11n began to be deployed more than two years ago -- initially at Morrisville State College in New York -- it wasn't formally certified by the Wi-Fi Alliance until recently. Noting that the certified standard is fully backward compatible with early 11n installations, Biswas said the formal blessing of 11n has helped spur sales as some formally hesitant customers are stepping up and installing the robust networks.

Meraki, which has more than 13,000 customers, has staked its business on smaller companies and organizations while avoiding the large enterprise markets dominated by Cisco and Aruba Networks.

"With Meraki you manage everything with an intuitive web UI that's hosted in the cloud," said Biswas, adding that IT professionals who are generalists are comfortable with Meraki's products.

In the survey of college students, the study found the Mac OS X to be growing in market share, with some 14% usage, while Windows XP/Vista is still the dominant operating system with 59% usage. The survey revealed that video accounts for 70% to 80% of all bandwidth use on campuses.

The Wi-Fi Alliance study said that 79% of the college students it surveyed said Wi-Fi made studying and learning easier.


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