Royal Holloway expands wireless services to meet growing student demand

Aruba Networks has announced that Royal Holloway, University of London, is in the process of a major expansion of its existing wireless network designed to meet the needs of an increasingly demanding student user-base.

"Today's students come equipped with a variety of mobile computing devices, but they all have one thing in common, the need to connect to a reliable wireless infrastructure," said Dr. Nigel Rata, infrastructure manager at Royal Holloway. "With the changes to student funding in the UK, it has become increasingly important to deliver quality infrastructure that supports the social and learning needs of our students, the faculty members, and the visitors who stay at the university for conferences and sporting events."

Over the last few years, Dr. Rata's team had deployed several hundred wireless access points, mainly in the student bedrooms and public areas of the Founders Building, which dates to 1881 and is a Grade 1 listed building.

"Over the past year or two we've seen a dramatic increase in the number of students and devices attached to the network," continued Dr. Rata. "Up until recently we were seeing a doubling of attached devices each year, but the growth in concurrent users is accelerating. Today we regularly see peaks of 4000 concurrent users connected to the wireless network. In education, it's essential not to underestimate the potential growth in demand for wireless connections, and with Aruba's infrastructure, we are very confident of meeting the demands of the university, conferences and the 2012 Olympic Games athletes that use our facilities."

Founded in 1879, Royal Holloway has a long history of academic innovation and is one of the four largest multi-faculty colleges in the University of London. Royal Holloway chose Aruba to replace its existing wireless solution of fat access points in 2007. It now delivers coverage in half of the student residences and will shortly cover the majority buildings on the 135 acre campus.

The Royal Holloway deployment is managed by Frank Madden, infrastructure team leader at Royal Holloway, whose team performs the RF site surveys and deployment-modelling themselves, and uses a third-party organisation experienced in working in architecturally challenging buildings to cable and implement the infrastructure.  In the most recent upgrade, Madden deployed 800 802.11n access points across 57 separate buildings and 360 floors in just 12 weeks - noting that with Aruba's centrally controlled infrastructure, Aruba access points can be installed and provisioned in less time than it takes to unpack them. The solution was provided by Data Integration, an Aruba Platinum Partner.

"In order to maintain its competitive edge, Royal Holloway recognised the need to provide a leading wireless service to its students, however its Grade I listed Founder's Building, with its thick walls and high number of users, threw up some unique challenges," said Bob Vickers, sales director of Aruba UK and Ireland.  "This is a great of example of how a wireless network can be installed to overcome difficult physical challenges and still deliver an enterprise-class service."

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