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Big WLAN on Campus

The recent adoption of authentication and encryption standards for wireless LANs has calmed IT nerves to the extent that many enterprises are now planning giant wireless build-outs. Because large universities have been dealing with the problems of large wireless networks longer than most other enterprises, there is a lot of learn from that sector.

In fact, "the bulk of the general market installations today" -- sites with more than 1,000 access points (APs) -- are in universities, according to Lynn Lucas, Proxim's vice president of product management. Proxim had an early focus on providing wireless equipment to universities starting with their pre-802.11b RangeLAN 2 equipment that ran at 2 Mbps.

Indeed, some colleges and universities started installing massive WLANs as early as the late 1990s. These networks often must handle a tremendous amount of heterogeneity, which, in turn requires both strong central management and flexible solutions. As a result, many universities have developed their own best practices from the chaos of protocols, devices, and operating systems that they've had to support.

That's why IT managers in enterprises that are just now starting to plan large WLAN build-outs can go back to college and learn some important lessons.

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