Morrisville, N.Y., is a small college town about 30 miles southeast of Syracuse, N.Y., my hometown. It's a picturesque college town in rural upstate New York. Many people who equate New York with New York City can't imagine that such a place could exist. Not too long ago, I was looking at some old home movies my father shot back in the early 1960s, including one of my cousin Tom's graduation from Morrisville College. When I was growing up, we knew it as Morrisville Ag/Tech, a two-year school that catered to a lot of students who weren't sure they wanted to spend four years in college. Tom went on to enjoy a successful career as co-owner of J&T Automotive.
Wireless networking transformed Morrisville, which New York State bureaucrats would prefer you call the State University of New York (SUNY), College at Morrisville. Ah, those state bureaucrats know how to come up with catchy names. Ten years ago, Morrisville faced a bit of an identity crisis. Most people in my neck of the woods viewed the college as the lowest wrung of the SUNY ladder. There were four SUNY comprehensive Research Universities, about 20 SUNY colleges and a half a dozen Ag/Tech schools, including Morrisville. If you are a college administrator, that's not the best place to be positioned.
Then, wireless LANs hit the market. I'm not talking about early 802.11b Wi-Fi products. I'm not even talking about the first 2-Mbps 802.11 products. I'm talking about frequency hopping spread spectrum offerings from Raytheon Wireless Solutions, products offered before 802.11 existed, back when the dominant players in wireless were Proxim, Symbol, Breezecom and NCR. At the time, I knew Raytheon more for its defense electronics. But the company's RF expertise was top-notch, and during an era of decreased military spending, wireless LANs were viewed as a good way to diversify Raytheon's business portfolio.
SUNY Morrisville was one of the early reference accounts for Raytheon's wireless LAN system. It didn't take long for critics, including myself, to point the finger at Morrisville as an example of what NOT to do in technology. By adopting a technology too early, before it was standardized, the institution was locked into a proprietary solution--and locked out of the benefits of standards. But in retrospect, I may have been wrong about Morrisville. While waiting for standards would have been the safe thing to do, Morrisville got a ton of mileage out of its wireless initiative. It bragged of being the most unwired campus in the country. I'll bet my cousin Tom was proud.
SUNY Morrisville is back in the news again, and I have to wonder whether history may be repeating itself. This time, Morrisville is partnering with Meru Networks to deploy what may be the first campus-wide wireless network based on the emerging 802.11n standard. Once completed, the network will include approximately 900 Meru AP300 a/b/g/n access points utilizing Meru's new 3-Tier Traffic Distribution System (3TDS), a self-proclaimed fourth-generation WLAN architecture Meru has designed to meet the increasing capacity demands associated with 802.11n.
According to Tuesday's press release, the new network is scheduled for deployment in the third quarter of 2007. Since universities typically deploy technology upgrades during the summer months, when most students aren't on campus, it's reasonable to presume that the network will be ready for students to use this fall. That's a pretty aggressive timeframe, even for early adopters.