Wireless case study: The London Business School

15 Apr 2009 View Comments
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LBS has installed WLAN management software to overcome performance issues

The London Business School (LBS) installed an 802.11b/g wireless LAN (WLAN) in 2001, giving staff and students wireless internet and email access from nearly every part of the campus via a Secure Socket Layer (SSL) encrypted web page. The WLAN also provides a commercial hotspot service as an overlay network with an additional service set identifier (SSID).

Students can access an education portal providing internet browsing, email, virtual course rooms, library and research services, collaborative tools and streaming content. Each lecture theatre has multiple wireless access points, with teaching equipment wired for both Ethernet and AV controls.

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“We won’t prevent a lecturer using the wireless network to present to a class, but for resilience and support we always suggest that the wired network should be the primary source of connectivity,” says Richard Thompson, the school’s senior infrastructure engineer for networks, telecoms and security.

“But there is no way that we could go back to a situation where we’re cabling every seat in teaching areas and to a certain extent the students would perceive a cabled service as being clumsy and awkward.”
Up to 300 client devices now connect to the WLAN every day, mostly laptops but an increasing number of tablet PCs, PDAs and other mobile devices, including voice over IP handsets such as Skype.

But rising traffic levels, and interference from the increasing number of domestic wireless routers in houses and flats surrounding the campus, began to create a bandwidth management and security headache, however.

“Students were reporting problems connecting to the WLAN, and it became evident we had to move to a system that could overcome radio frequency management issues,” says Thompson.

It was possible to take a manual approach using a handheld scanner to assess the radio frequency signals, but this was time consuming and provided nothing more than a temporary fix to rogue access point and load balancing issues. To eliminate the problem, the LBS installed an integrated wireless system from Aruba including new access points and a controller.

“The number of associated helpdesk support calls immediately subsided,” says Thompson.
LBS plans to extend Wi-Fi coverage to the few areas of the campus not already covered in the near future, and expand its use of wireless technology to include converged telecoms and RFID.

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